This DVD contains two action films from the Nordisk Films Co. Both films display the high production value Nordisk had attained after almost a decade as one of the top five film production companies in the world. In The End of the World (1916) the rumour spreads that a comet is on a collision course with Earth. Inspired by the fear evoked by Halley's Comet in 1910, this film was clearly addressed to a public in an age of war. A Trip to Mars (1918) is a lavishly produced space-travel picture and a milestone in the science fiction genre. The contemporary fascination with aviation is evident: the space-ship has wings and a propeller, and the crew is clad in leather aviator outfits.
About the films
A trip to Mars
Navy captain Avanti Planetaros is inspired by his astronomer-father to travel through outer space to reach other worlds. He becomes an aviator, and, along with the young scientist Dr. Krafft, the driving force behind the construction of a spaceship. Despite opposition from the mocking Professor Dubius, Planetaros gathers a crew of fearless men and takes off. During the long voyage, the crew becomes restless; a mutiny is narrowly avoided. Finally they reach Mars, and discover that the planet is inhabited by a people who have reached a higher stage of development, free of disease, sorrow, violence, covetousness, sexual urges, and the fear of death. Avanti falls in love with Marya, daughter of the Prince of Wisdom, the head of the Martians. Marya shares his feelings, and decides to return with him in order to bring the wisdom of the Martians to the backward Earthlings.
This lavishly produced space-travel picture is something of a milestone in the science-fiction genre. The contemporary fascination with aviation is evident: the spaceship has wings and a propeller, and the members of the crew are clad in leather aviator outfits. While the druid-like Martians may seem unintentionally comic, the film's ideas of a utopian ideal world are quite fascinating from the viewpoint of cultural history. Ole Olsen was credited as co-author of the screenplay, and both he and the well-known writer Sophus Michaëlis hoped that the film would speak to the hearts of spectators and inspire them with "ideal sentiments", particularly pacifism.
The End of the World
A mine foreman, West, has two daughters, the fair Edith and the dark Dina. Edith falls in love with ship's mate Reymers, while Dina runs away with the unscrupulous capitalist Frank Stoll. When the rumour spreads that a comet is on a collision course with Earth, Stoll exploits the situation to make a killing on the stock market. On the eve of the comet's impact, Stoll gathers his friends for a great orgy, but enraged workers storm his grand villa, egged on by Dina's jilted ex-fiancé. He, Stoll, and Dina all perish. Fire rains down from the sky, and the seas flood the land: The Earth is laid waste. Only two survive, Edith and Reymers, and the film ends with their miraculous reunion.
Inspired by the fear evoked by Halley's Comet in 1910, this film was clearly addressed to a public in an age of war, when the old order was collapsing. It carries great conviction, thanks to excellent acting and clever use of locations. The camerawork is first-class; throughout, the film's images are carefully and elegantly composed. To create scenes of earth-shattering disaster that would carry conviction must have been the greatest challenge for Blom and his technicians. Special-effects technology was practically nonexistent, and financial resources were not unlimited, but the scenes of the cataclysm are surprisingly effective. Fiery sparks rain down from above, quickly shrouding everything in a pall of smoke. This is obviously an economical solution to the problem of showing the disaster, the effect is eerie, unsettling, and convincingly apocalyptic. Most important of all, the ending, which in summary may sound preposterously contrived, is in fact dramatically fitting and genuinely moving.
Himmelskibet / A Trip to Mars - Denmark 1918 - Directed by: Holger-Madsen - Written by: Sophus Michaelis, Ole Olsen - Cinematography by: Louis Larsen - Cast: Nicolai Neilendam, Gunnar Tolnaes, Zanny Petersen, Svend Kornbeck, Alf Blütecher, Frederick Jacobsen - Produced by: Nordisk Films Kompagni - Premiere: February 22, 1918
Verdens Undergang / The End of the World - Denmark 1916 - Directed by: August Blom - Written by: Otto Rung - Cinematography by: Louis Larsen - Cast: Olaf Fönss, Carl Lauritzen, Ebba Thomsen, Johanne Fritz-Petersen, Thorleff Lund, Alf Blütecher - Produced by: Nordisk Films Kompagni - Premiere: April 1, 1916
- Himmelskibet 1918, 81'
- Verdens Undergang 1916, 77'
- Piano scores by Ronen Thalmay
- Chapter selections
Edited by: Danish Film Institute & Cinematheque
DVD Authoring: Eric L. Petersen
DVD Supervision: Thomas Christensen