Message from Mars, A

Tagged: Film

Film (1913). UK Films. Directed by J Wallett Waller. Scenario Waller, based on the play A Message from Mars (1899) by Richard Ganthony. Starring Charles Hawtrey, E Holman Clark, Chrissie Bell. 60 minutes, cut to 54 minutes. Black and white.

This moral fable about a messenger sent from Mars to help bring humans – especially the selfish Horace Parlan – to their senses was based on a remarkably successful and long-running play, and the film version was actually made in the theatre with the same actors. The story is very similar to that of Scrooge being redeemed by the ghosts in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843); very little is made of the Alien nature of the Martian, who is more like an angel. An earlier film version of the same play was made in 1909 in New Zealand, probably much shorter; the details and the film itself have been lost. A later (1921) US version (Metro, 69 minutes, cut to 63 minutes), directed by Maxwell Karger, gives the events of the story a dream framework. A novelized version of the play is A Message from Mars (1912) by Lester Lurgan, the second edition of which was illustrated by stills from the film. [PN]

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