Sunday, June 09, 2013

Pași spre lună / First Steps to the Moon

Pași spre lună / First Steps to the Moon. Photo from the IMDb.

Kohti Kuuta / First Steps to the Moon / Steps Towards the Moon. RO 1963. PC: Studioul Cinematografiul Bucuresti. D+SC: Ion Popescu-Gopo. DP: Stefan Horvath. AD: Marcel Bogos. Cost: Nelly Merola. Makeup: Alexandru Popescu. M: Dumitru Capioanu. Song: "E pur si muove".
    Characters and performers: A flight passenger to the Moon (Radu Beligan), Troglodytes, Prometheus (Florin Piersic), Cupid, The Woman on the Moon, Mercurius (Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic), The Caliph of Bagdad (Ovidiu Teodorescu), Artemis (Irina Petrescu), Dracula (Ion Manu), The Alchemist, Galileo Galilei (George Demetru), Leonardo da Vinci (Emil Botta), La Gioconda (Eugenia Popovici), Cyrano de Bergerac, Baron von Münchhausen (Marcel Anghelescu), Jules Verne. - More performers: Horia Caciulescu, Horia Serbanescu, Liliana Tomescu.
    After the two opening introductory captions there is no such dialogue or text in the film that requires translation.
    A special screening in Helsinki: 21.8.1964 Scala, released by: Suomi-Filmi – VET 69676 – S – 1645 m / 60 min.
    A vintage KAVA print deposited by Suomi-Filmi, no subtitles required, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (50 Years Ago), 9 June, 2013

A flight of fancy, a comic science fantasy.

A satire on the space age: a traveller to the Moon decides to have a shave on the airport, and when he plugs his electric razor in the socket, the entire airport goes dark. In the darkness the protagonist stumbles until he falls into the bottom of a cave and follows the mankind's history of the dreams of flying and awareness about outer space: Prometheus, Cupid, Mercurius, flying carpets of Bagdad, Artemis, a winged batman Dracula, an alchemist, Galilei, Leonardo, Cyrano, Baron Münchhausen, Jules Verne...

The concept seems to be that dreams of flying are what separate us from cavemen.

The main story is a dream. When the framing story continues the electricity having been plugged on again, the traveller recognizes the mythological dream figures in his fellow passengers. The dream Woman of the Moon also emerges in flesh and blood.

There are some funny ideas in the movie: - When the hero helps Prometheus fight the eagle he also gets to readjust Prometheus's fake beard. - The hero's roasted ducks are eaten with a healthy appetite by Mercurius and the Caliph of Bagdad. - There is a run in the flying carpet, and the hero and Artemis meet on the thread. - Leonardo da Vinci pretends to be painting La Gioconda, but he is actually making sketches of flying machines.

There are also rather tired jokes such as the Italian-style pop song "E pur si muove" production number to the scene of Galilei at the stake and the hero's regression to using Galilei's telescope to peek a woman undressing for a swim. There is a feeling of inspiration in the beginning, but it starts to evaporate towards the conclusion.

The music is often magnificent, and versatile with the pop insert, some The Shadows -style instrumental rock (known in Finland as rautalanka), and a famous Romanian theme.

Much of the action takes place against a black background, like in space.

The print is complete and flawless, and it has been shown perhaps only a couple of times before. The visual quality is good but not like it has been struck from the negative.

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