The 1920s was an exciting time in science fiction film history. Cinema was booming after WWI, giving filmmakers successively bigger budgets to realise their visions with, and groundbreaking technical advancements allowed for ever more realistic depictions of the impossible. Here’s a list of the 10 best sci-fi films released between 1920 and 1929.
This 1931 apocalypse film from French mastermind of the silent era, Abel Gance, is a turkey of epic proportions. The heavy-handed religious moral tale fails to cope with the restrictions of sound films, and the all too obvious script that fails to surprise or engage the viewer. 3/10
A hallucinatory explosion of art deco and visual experimentation, Marcel L’Herbier’s 1924 film L’Inhumaine has divided critics and audiences for decades. Its bold design and innovative editing inspired a generation of directors, but many find its script thin and its characters one-dimensional and uninspiring.
In a nutshell: A bonkers short subject by master director Jean Renoir from 1927 shows an African explorer in a spacecraft discovering a white native woman in a post-apocalyptic Paris, and they dance the Charleston for ten minutes. (5/10)
The first feature film dealing with the stopping of time, French experimental movie Paris qui dort is a poetical comedy that uses science fiction trappings to recapture the romanticism of a Paris before the hustle and bustle of the modern speed-crazy world of the 1920s. (7/10)
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (6/10) The first feature film containing a death ray is a rather obscure little French movie from 1924 about a man threatening to destroy Paris unless he is paid […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (6/10) Georges Méliès’ last science fiction film, released in 1912, was a magnificent swansong for an era of filmmaking. Perhaps his most accomplished film technically, but the polar adventure […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (4/10) In the year 2000 police officers will be catching criminals with giant grapplers from the deck of their airship, according to this 1910 short from Gaumont. Notable for […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (9/10) While derivative of Georges Méliès’ space voyages, Segundo de Chomon’s silent short from 1909 is a tour de force of innovative camera use, seamless special effects and stunning […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (5/10) A fun and well-made 1908 short by Georges Méliès about a fantastic camera projecting images in real time of the subjects’ real selves, this French one-reeler mostly rehashes […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (8/10) Stop-motion animation with live actors has probably never been done as well as in Segundo de Chomon’s 1908 film The Electric Hotel. But this tale of a tourist […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (6/10) In 1908 Spanish master filmmaker Segundo de Chomon directed a carbon copy of Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon. The result is professional, but uninspired. An Excursion […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (4/10) Gaston Velle’s 1907 film is a fairly entertaining underwater fantasy short, made hastily to cash in on Georges Méliès epic Under the Seas. Velle directs the imitation professionally, […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (7/10) A drunken romantic reaches for the moon in this warmly whimsical 1905 pseudo-sci-fi film by French trick filmer Gaston Velle. Clearly inspired by Georges Méliès, but with a […]