Fritz Lang made several excellent silent films but his last one came in 1929. Lang returned to the science-fiction genre with Frau im Mond, Woman in the Moon.
Woman in the Moon is considered one of the first serious science fiction space exploration movies. Although dated, at the time it tried to be as accurate as it could be for 1929. The movie features a multi-stage rocket that is fired vertically. The movie is also the first ever to feature the countdown – something done for dramatic effect but also something that rocket scientist incorporated into actual rocket launches.
The story is bit more fantastical. Professor Mannfeldt (Klaus Pohl) believes that Earth’s moon has gold on it. Mannfeldt’s ideas are laughed at by his colleagues but businessman Helius (Willy Fritsch) believes him. Unfortunately evil businessmen lead by an evil American who calls himself Walter Turner (Fritz Rasp) want in on the exploration. They force Helius into letting Turner travel with him. Mannfeldt has two assistants, Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim) and Friede (Gerda Maurus). Both Windegger and Helius are in love with Friede but Windegger proposes to her first.
Once construction of the rocket ship is complete, the group launches into space. Once in space they deal with loss of gravity and discover a stowaway in the form of a kid who Helius had befriended. Once they arrive on the moon Mannfeldt’s theories are proven correct, then things get complicated.
Lang had an actual rocket scientist work on the film. When the Nazis started working on their V2 rockets they banned this movie because the rocket and how it worked was too similar to their actual rockets. The movie is pretty entertaining – for all the effort there was still things that Lang got wrong. The moon in the film had breathable atmosphere as well as gold. Still not a bad effort for a film made 40 years before we actually made it to the moon.