Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holger-Madsen: Himmelskibet

Holger-Madsen's Himmelskibet (1918) is a Danish film about the journey of the Sky Ship Excelsior and its crew from Earth to Mars. Arriving with canned meat and weaponry, these space travelers encounter an advanced civilization peopled with beings that look remarkably like Danes, albeit dressed in loose-fitting white outfits similar to something probably worn by ancient Greeks and Romans -- with Egyptian accessories. Turns out that Martians are peaceful vegetarians, neither tempted to start the next World War nor particularly daunted by Earthlings. 

During the Great War of 1914-1918, Holger-Madsen (1878-1943) worked on films in neutral Denmark. He was, no doubt, appalled by the industrialized slaughter wrought by the adjacent conflict. Interestingly, his "real" name was Holger Madsen, to which he added the flourish of a dash. 

What else was going on at the time? Just days before American entry into the Great War in 1917, the Convention between the United States and Denmark for Cession of the Danish West Indies (1916) went into effect, allowing Denmark to remain neutral right to the end of the war. Jomfruøerne (De dansk-vestindiske øer) have been known ever since as the U.S. Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, the mysteries of Mars are still being explored in 2012.

Today's Rune: Signals.         


WAS said...

I love all these film suggestions. I'm afraid I'll always be hopelessly behind (I did watch some Tartkovsky --Andrei Rubov--this weekend though).

I have a sinking feeling--in the no coincidences department--that Danish neutrality in WWI is somehow connected to the latest controversies on Martian pictures, but I'll leave that to others to suss.

Erik Donald France said...

Cheers, man~!