CAPSULE: This was the first science fiction film to try to be serious and accurate in depicting celestial travel. While it is not too hard to find, few science fans and science fiction fans have actually seen it.
In July TCM celebrated the 50th anniversary of humans first landing on the moon. They chose to run the rarely seen THE WOMAN IN THE MOON (DIE FRAU IM MOND). This was the first science fiction film to try to be serious and accurate in depicting celestial travel. While it is not too hard to find, few science fans and science fiction fans have actually seen it. TCM ran it for the first time.
In 1927 Fritz Lang made what may be remembered as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, METROPOLIS, based on his wife's novel of the same title. Certainly the image of the female robot is one of the more notable images of early science fiction cinema. Two years later Lang was back making another SF film for the screen, DIE FRAU IM MOND (THE WOMAN IN THE MOON). It is the story of a team of people who design and create a rocket ship to be the first people on the moon.
This is not the first film of a trip to the moon, but it was the first film that seriously treated the subject of space travel. The portrayals of conditions on the moon are a good deal wide of the mark. That was to be expected. There was very little real information about what the moon would really be like. On the other hand, German rocketry was the most advanced in the world, and there was not yet a military clampdown on rocket science. Rocket scientists on the level of Willy Ley and Herrman Oberth gave their expertise to the project. The rocketry portrayed in the film was mostly either actual science or informed guesswork.
One piece of trivia was that Lang wanted the moment of the rocket firing to play as the most dramatic scene of the film. But when the rocket was fired there was not much to see until the moment of firing. Lang remembered that during the war when a big gun was to be fired people were alerted by the person firing the gun would count backwards from ten to zero, firing the gun at zero. It worked for the audience. This was the first verifiable time a rocket blast-off was associated with a countdown to zero.
Here is Wikipedia's list of what were essentially lucky guesses, cases where the film made correct guesses about the first real rocket to the moon:
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2019 Mark R. Leeper