Monday, February 11, 2013

Celluloid Rocketship



By the mid-thirties, the major film studios were all exploiting the public’s interest in the exotic worlds of the solar system. Of all the one-reel travelogue series produced, perhaps none was more popular than The Rocketship of Movietone, debuted in 1931.

Several of the earliest films dealt with Venus. “Giants of the Jungle” focused on the exotic and dangerous Venusian saurians. In early 1932, “Lost Cities of Venus” used footage from the Markheim survey expedition's dangerous foray into one of the ruins of the ancients.


Of course, Mars figures prominently in the early subjects. The low canal markets and bazaars were featured. Another dealt with the desert tribes--though the tragic fate of the expedition that provided the footage was wisely kept from the movie-going public.

While the initial run of films dealt predominantly with the inner worlds and their satellites, one was made from footage shot by one of the earliest commercial missions to Ganymede. While the footage is limited (still photos had to be used at times) and of lower quality than what was coming from film crews on Mars or Venus, it did give the public their first view of the eerie necropolises of that cold and distant moon.


More than one spaceman of the fifties and sixties sited these early Rocketship of Movietone films as an important influence on their lives.

11 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

These look fantastic. I love the pictures. Is there a place on the web that features Movietones?

Trey said...

Thanks. There are a few Magic Carpet of Movietone (which is the short I based this on) up, though most of them are from later years. Here's one on Youtube.

Bard said...

I like how the images are interwoven with the narrative -- each really helps to sell the other.

Canageek said...

Cool, very cool. Sounds like a fun game to play.

Sean P. Robson said...

These are great, Trey. It is interesting that you can date, fairly accurately, the age of a film based on its appearance. I would have guessed 1930's for these pictures just by looking at them. It seems that films of each decade, right up to present day have their own signature look.

Trey said...

Thanks guys.

@Sean - There is a bit of tricky involved. One of the pictures is definitely period. Another issues period elements but is combined with some number stuff. The final is actually from the 70s, but I manipulated it to make it look older.

Sean P. Robson said...

Is the last one that's been manipulated? The dinosaur picture screams 1930's at me.

Trey said...

It is. The last one is actually from the The Martian Chronicles mini-series.

The Happy Whisk said...

I would watch these. I enjoy this kind of stuff. Although if I watch too late at night, I often fall asleep.

That's not good.

Trey said...

Well, nobody's perfect. ;)

satyre said...

I thought that last one looked familiar! Good stuff.