<<Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) is a science fiction silent film that premiered 15 October 1929 at the UFA-Palast am Zoo cinema in Berlin to an audience of 2,000. It is often considered to be one of the first "serious" science fiction films. It was written and directed by Fritz Lang, based on the 1928 novel The Rocket to the Moon by his collaborator Thea von Harbou, his wife at the time. It was released in the US as By Rocket to the Moon and in the UK as Woman in the Moon. The basics of rocket travel were presented to a mass audience for the first time by this film, including the use of a multi-stage rocket. The film was shot between October 1928 and June 1929 at the UFA studios in Neubabelsberg near Berlin.
Rocket scientist Hermann Oberth worked as an advisor on this movie. He had originally intended to build a working rocket for use in the film, but time and technology prevented this from happening. The film was popular among the rocket scientists in Wernher von Braun's circle at the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR). The first successfully launched V-2 rocket at the rocket-development facility in Peenemünde had the Frau im Mond logo painted on its base. Noted post-war science writer Willy Ley also served as a consultant on the film. Thomas Pynchon's 1973 novel Gravity's Rainbow, which deals with the V-2 rockets, refers to the movie, along with several other classic German silent films.
Plot: Helius (Willy Fritsch) is an entrepreneur with an interest in space travel.
He seeks out his friend Professor Mannfeldt (Klaus Pohl), a visionary who wrote a treatise claiming that there was probably much gold on the Moon, only to be ridiculed by his peers. Helius recognizes the value of Mannfeldt's work. However, a gang of evil businessmen have also taken an interest in Mannfeldt's theories, and send a spy (Fritz Rasp) who identifies himself as "Walter Turner".
The rocket team is assembled: Helius; Professor Mannfeldt and his pet mouse Josephine; Windegger; Friede; and Turner. After Friede blasts off, the team discovers that Gustav (Gustl Gstettenbaur), a young boy who has befriended Helius, has stowed away, along with his collection of science fiction pulp magazines.
They reach the far side of the Moon and find it has a breathable atmosphere, per the theories of Peter Andreas Hansen. Mannfeldt discovers gold, proving his theory. When confronted by Turner, Mannfeldt falls to his death in a crevasse. Turner attempts to hijack the rocket, and in the struggle, he is shot and killed. Gunfire damages the oxygen tanks, and they come to the grim realization that there is not enough oxygen for all to make the return trip. One person must remain on the Moon.
Helius and Windegger draw straws to see who must stay and Windegger loses. Seeing Windegger's anguish, Helius decides to drug Windegger and Friede with a last drink together and take Windegger's place, letting Windegger return to Earth with Friede. Friede senses that something is in the wine. She pretends to drink and then retires to the compartment where her cot is located, closes and locks the door. Windegger drinks the wine, becoming sedated. Helius makes Gustav his confidant and the new pilot for the ship. Helius watches it depart, then starts out for the survival camp originally prepared for Windegger. He discovers that Friede has decided to stay with him on the Moon. They embrace, and Helius weeps into her shoulder while Friede strokes his hair and whispers words of comfort to him.>>