The first Science Fiction Romance movie?

Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) 1929

I took my kids to see the movie Hugo and was fascinated by so much of the movie, but one of the elements that stood out, was insight into the 1902 film Le Voyage dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon), written and directed by Georges Méliès. A silent film with cutting edge effects for the time, it is widely considered to be the first Science Fiction film

Cool, huh?

I thought so.

Then, today I ran across a mention of 1929’s Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) written and directed by Fritz Lang. Another silent film sci-fi effort (the moon was a popular destination in these early films, huh?). Upon reading the plot, I was surprised to learn that there was a pivotal romance involved. A love triangle, no less! So I went on a search.

What was the first Science Fiction Romance film?

(fun trivia for Woman in the Moon: it apparently introduced the first use of the countdown for ship launches)

Metropolis

Reading up on the history of Science Fiction film, it seems that while US movies focused on the SF classics with action and horror, many of the European ones included romance. Given that older films have deteriorated, been lost,  and this search of mine hasn’t been exhaustive, it’s still difficult to pin down the first SFR movie.

Several early SF films are of note for their inclusion of romance. One is Aelita (or Aelita: Queen of Mars. 1924)  from Russia. The intrepid young hero leads a revolt on Mars and the Queen falls in love with him.

But in answering my own question, deciding on the first SFR movie, it turns out difficult to pinpoint because so much has been lost. Plot outlines aren’t available, the film has deteriorated, but an earlier Fritz movie is a perfect representative for the first SFR film. Metropolis (1927), a dystopian featuring a division of class. This futuristic setting casts our wealthy hero and our working class heroine on opposite ends of society. This is a sci-fi film with action, social commentary, and even a robot impersonating a human. And yet, the romance is pivotal to the plot. It creates the inciting event, it furthers the action, and it helps resolve the ending conflict. This is a true Science Fiction Romance.

(Author Rae Lori gives her impressions of the movie on her own blog, calling it “SFR at its finest.”)

(And wait a sec, another side note here. 2026 is only 14 years away. Where’s my robot double?)

Where does this leave me? Besides in hopes to see Metropolis at a film festival if I’m lucky? It leaves me with an appreciation for how these early movies accepted relationships as a crucial element in a SF story.

And a new-found appreciation for the era of silent films.

Aelita

***

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.

Her Science Fiction Romance, Desert Blade is coming soon from Carina Press. Currently available SFR: Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra

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7 comments

  1. Great post, Ella

    I love the art deco imagery of Metropolis. I *think* it’s been shown on the TV here, but I have a sieve brain and can’t remember much about it.
    A robot double would be cool. Then she could do the remembering for me… :/

  2. Great post! I recently started watching AELITA (it’s free via Amazon Prime) so it was cool to see your post appear. It’s such a different experience watching these older films and I love the thrill of discovery.

    1. Oooo. I didn’t know it was on Amazon Prime. I did find Metropolis and planned on watching it.

      Though, I am realistic about this. I know story telling has changed over the years of film and nowadays I like my SF with a large dose of adrenalin packed speeder chases, big explosions, and Romance!!!

  3. I just watched “Hugo” with my kids a couple nights ago. We’d read the book and were looking forward to the film. My 7yo wants to “live in a clock” now. I love how Georges Méliès recognized the potential not just for filming trains and people, but for creating dreams.

    We have Metropolis on DVD, but haven’t watched it in ages. Might be time to revisit!

    Side note on the topic of SFR: My husband got mad at me the first time I called “Star Trek” a “soap opera for men.” But recently we rewatched TNG and DS9… and there really is a LOT of romance, sexual tension, emotion, drama, etc., and the “science” is really pretty cheesy and weak at best. He concedes my point now. lol

  4. I love the older films too. This is such a great post, Ella.

  5. I watched Hugo on my flight home today and loved it. What a fun blog post. Will have to track down Metropolis to watch.

  6. HW Hall · · Reply

    Metropolis is available on DVD, also. Go for the fully restored version.

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