Britain’s First Full-Length SF Feature

A Message from Mars
R: Wallett Waller. B: Richard Ganthoney (play and scenario). D: Charles Hawtrey, E. Holman Clark, Crissie Bell, Frank Hector, Hubert Willis, Kate Tyndale. P: United Kingdom Photoplays. UK 1913
Print: BFI
Rus. subtitles

“Richard Ganthony (1856-1924) UK playwright and author of the sf play ‘A Message from Mars: A Fantastic Comedy in Three Acts’ (performed 1899), which was first published in novelized form as ‘A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony’ (1912) by Lester Lurgan, and in something like its original form as ‘A Message from Mars: A Fantastic Comedy in Three Acts’ (1923), which was a revision of the original script. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921), the first version being presented in synopsis form as Mr Charles Hawtrey in a Cinematograph Version of ‘A Message from Mars’ (1912), as adapted by J Wallett Waller. The story is a kind of reenactment of Charles Dickens‘s ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1843), the Scrooge character, in this case a mildly dissipated young gentleman, being subjected to visits from a superior being from Mars, who demonstrates to him various marvels as they walk through London. In the end, he awakens transformed from this vision. [JC]”

“Britain’s first full-length science fiction feature, largely unseen for over a century, has been restored by the BFI National Archive and is now accompanied by a new score by composer Matthew Herbert, commissioned by the BFI and the BBC. (…) This fascinating film was based on a highly popular stage play which saw many revivals over 30 years in Britain. It features the first on-screen imaginings of Martians by a British film-maker, as futuristically clad members of the Martian court. Thought transference, instant space travel, mind control and the use of a far-seeing crystal ball all feature in this ground-breaking film.”