By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The music band R.E.M. most likely did not know there was more men on the moon. If they did some research, they would have known about Tomi Ungerer’s 1967 children’s picture book Moon Man (Der Mondmann) that earned acclaim in Europe. After being translated to over 12 languages and earning worldwide appeal, this story is animated for a modern generation to enjoy, and it is available for purchase on DVD through Amazon.
To read about the mythos this book establishes is unique. All around the world, children can not fall asleep unless the Moon Man watches over them. In what he projects is an innocence that kids recognize and without him looming overhead, they tend to be restless. In everything he sees when floating above Earth every night, he wants to experience for himself.
Also, this moon man is very lonely. Nobody ever visits his lunar perch. When a fireball blazes by on one fortunate evening, he takes the opportunity to grab its tail and go on a magic carpet ride. When it crashes on earth, he gets to explore this new land and have a bit of fun. At the same time, he witnesses the best and worst of what humanity represents.
Inventor Bunsen van der Dunkel (Thomas Kästner) is very kind to him whereas the President (Ulrich Tukur) wants to exploit him.
Like waiting for the full moon on the rise, the way the plot meanders to a climax, an apogee, takes patience. There are lulls in the narrative when the moon man simply wants to stop to smell the roses. Instead of action or adventure, this film is more of an art house style parable. When the power mad president is intent on conquering the moon Georges Méliès style, to see him chase after the Moon Man is not without some amusement.
Interestingly enough, this movie feels more like a tribute to the silent age of cinema than an homage to flights of fancy.
With tunes like Louis Armstrong’s “Moon River” and Maeva Méline’s “Au Clair de la Lune,” the diversity this film’s soundtrack offers suggests a deeper meaning. Some viewers might wonder how Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” figures into this cosmic world. But when the musical genres represented includes “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” the Jazz sounds becomes the dominating form to suggest that this movie is more of an emotional experience to feel with than a narrative to make sense out of.
When the cosmos is upset that the moon man left his post, problems arise and this film tries to come to a fitting end. Like trying to pin the tail on a donkey, it tries and comes close. Maybe if this movie was trimmed down from its 95 minute run time to that of 75-80 minutes, then this film would not feel like it was stretching itself out.
3 Stars out of 5