After Jacques Feyder refused to make a sound version of his 1921 film L’Atlantide, G.W. Pabst stepped in to make three this, shot in English, French and German with three different casts yet always having Brigitte Helm (the robot from Metropolis) in the lead.
Based on Pierre Benoit’s novel L’Atlantide, this movie has two French Foreign Legionnaires lost in the Sahara Desert when they find the very unlikely entrance to Atlantis, which is ruled over by Antinea. Yet this isn’t a movie like Stargate or one of the many matriarchal spacewomen films that would come out in the fifties. Instead, it’s a German Expressionistic dream-filled tale of what lies beneath the unexplored space of the desert and that is more unexplored space, because the Earth is vast and we are bored and yet there is so much that we have not done.
That said, the original novel is even more fantastic, with the queen presiding over a burial plot filled with the dead bodies of extinguished past lovers. Here, she’s the daughter of a dancer from our world and a tribal leader and you know, maybe we want the unreal over the real sometimes.
Brigitte Helm would retire three years later, yet was once considered to be Frankenstein’s bride. She moved to Switzerland and said that the Nazi takeover of the film industry sickened her; she made thirty movies in just seventeen years before that.