© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
First on the Moon
(Perviyje na luna)
An image from First on the
Aleksei Fedorchenko,
Russia, 2005; 75 min.

        Who knew that the
Russians had such senses
of humor?
First on the
is a mock
documentary that posits the
theory that in the 1930s
the Soviet Union poured money into a space program and launched the
first successful manned flight to the moon.

        Written by Ramil Yamaleev and Alexei Fedorchenko and directed by
Federchenko, the film utilizes a number of techniques to mix what purport
to be newsreel footage and interviews with those with knowledge about
the pre-World War II Soviet program. Opening with black and white
recreated footage of a 1938 crash of what is called a UFO in Chile,
the filmmakers spin out their tale. The wreckage is not a UFO, but
pieces of the first manned Russian spacecraft to be sent to the moon.

        Ostensibly following the exploits of the five cosmonauts selected
for the program, including a little person with a circus background and
a female,
First on the Moon uses real footage of newsreels, recreated
shots of the training sessions and color footage of interviews including
the only survivor of the program now an artist.

First on the Moon is visually stunning, calling to mind the works of
many of the great Soviet filmmakers like Vertov, Eisenstein, Pudovkin
and Dovzhenko. Fedorchenko also manages to depict just how crushing
the Soviet system could be as the program is dismantled and the
participants face their uncertain futures.

Rating:                B+