First Spaceship On Venus (1962)

by John Ballantine

"Der schweigende Stern" (German) or "Milcząca Gwiazda" (Polish) is a 1960 East German/Polish film directed by Kurt Maetzig based on the novel "The Astronauts" by Stanisław Lem. In 1962 Crown International Pictures released an English dub "First Spaceship On Venus", which is a shortened version.

First Spaceship on Venus begins in 1985 when a spool is found to be of non-earthly origin, and traced back to 1908 when it was thought a meteor had fallen but which may have been a spaceship after all.

In the spool a message is found and party decoded, and determined to be a flight recorder of Venus origin. Meanwhile radio messages to Venus go unanswered, and internationally renowned Professor Harringway announces that a journey to Venus is the only option.

Off they go in the recently completed space ship Cosmokrator, originally intended for Mars. But when they get to Venus, they find that interference from that planet is cutting off their radio contact with earth. What's more, having meanwhile worked on decoding the entire spool message, they now find that the Venusian plan was to destroy everone on earth and invade their planet.

Finally on Venus no life is found except for what appears to be small little robot insects, which when studied prove to be small archives of information.

It would appear that a catastrophe had destroyed the Venusians, with only their "shadows" remaining on the walls as they were flung through the air from the explosion and burnt to ashes.

The movie started out great and full of promise, but it doesn't quite deliver to the end. This however may be due to the fact that this is a shortened version of the German/Polish original and therefore from the middle and especially at the end it comes across as jumping to the end. Does appear that some cleaning up was necessary though to pick up the pace.

Personally I would have loved to see some creativity from the filmmakers in bringing to life on the screen some unique looking Venusians through special effects. Perhaps a small number of survivors. It isn't the most exciting part to find this new planet but nobody and nothing really on it.

Still, the special effects are something to be admired for the 1960's. 

Stars from the film include Yoko Tani, Oldrich Lukes, Ignacy Machowski, Julius Ongewe and Michail N. Postnikow.