A Message from Mars (1913)    0 Stars    
A Message from Mars (1913)
 A Message from Mars (1913)

Director: Wallett Waller

Cast: Charles Hawtrey, E. Holman Clark, Crissie Bell

Synopsis: A Martian is sentenced to visit earth to cure a selfish man.






Quite why the residents of Mars consider the redemption of a random Earthling to be appropriate punishment for an unspecified transgression of its laws by one of their own is never explained in Wallett Waller’s Message from Mars, Britain’s first ever science fiction movie, which has recently been restored by the BFI. And quite what the message they bring is – other than don’t behave like an arse towards others and you’ll probably find life a lot easier (which most of us already know) – is something of a mystery. In fact, the SF aspect of the story seems like nothing more than a futile attempt on the part of the filmmakers to disguise the fact that A Message from Mars is actually nothing more than a thinly veiled updating of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.

The transgressing Martian, played – rather badly, it has to be said – by E. Holman Clark, is tasked with mending the ways of Horace Parker (Charles Hawtrey – not the one you’re thinking of, but an eminent Victorian stage actor), an irascible coot who thinks nothing of abusing street urchins in Trafalgar Square and watching Punch & Judy shows without paying. Parker also has a fiancé (Crissie Bell) whom he neglects, even though she’s clearly way out of his league. Anyway, our messenger disguises himself as a standard lamp in Parker’s living room for a while in order to measure up the scale of the task ahead of him. Then, upon making himself known to his target, he ensures his compliance by bringing on some kind of seizure every time Parker shows any sign of resistance. Intentionally or otherwise, Hawtrey’s performances of these seizures are the comical high spot of an otherwise extremely dull little tale. The plot unfolds exactly as you’d expect, only at probably a quarter of the pace that you’d prefer. There are some interesting shots of a pre-WW1 London, but otherwise A Message from Mars has only its tenuous SF claim to fame to make it worth seeking out.

(Reviewed 12th December 2014)

Rent Home Entertainment, Kitchen Appliances and Technology at Dial-a-TV