First on the Moon is quintessentially Russian. At the very least, I can’t imagine anyone but a Russian coming up with the beautiful first scenes of the movie—an eerie, from-the-gut syntheses of Dovzhenko’s salt-of-the-earth primitivism and Eisteinstein’s intimate anthropometric viva-ism. The film envisions an alternate historical reality, one in which Russia beat the United States to the moon by more than 30 years. Like C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, the story is told almost entirely using an assembly of faked newsreel footage. The mockumentary traces the evolution of the country’s space program, from the selection of the five cosmonauts who are exercised to a pulp and blasted to the moon to the fascist strongholds that destroy many of them once the space program is dismantled. It may sound weird to fault a film for having so little heart given that the story here concerns a heartless race for cultural dominance, but its not only the story that’s cold but director Alexey Fedorchenko’s technical prowess. The counterfeiting of different forms of ancient film stock, including the addition of post-production lines and scratches, is impressive but somewhat vulgar and nonsensical. Fedorchenko is such a tech-hound that he loses sight of common sense—he uses very little interview footage and does away with voiceover but gives some of his footage a spacey score you’d only hear at a rave. In the end, the film defeats itself by ceasing to resemble a documentary any of us have ever seen, conveying only the feeling a DJ mixing together (and sometimes speeding up) found documentary images with a bunch of trippy sounds. Might scan better under the influence of Russian ecstasy.
- 75 min
- Alexey Fedorchenko
- Aleksandr Gonorovskiy, Ramil Yamaleyev
- Boris Vlasov, Victoria Ilyinskaya, Anatoly Otradnov, Alexei Slavnin, Andrei Osipov, Victor Kotov, Alexei Anisimov, Igor Sannikov
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