An aerial attack is launched from a foreign country.
In the meantime, lovers are strolling in a garden. The man asks the woman’s father for her hand in marriage. The father refuses. The man leaves in despair. The man is an inventor who is working on a propeller driven missile.
A friend comes into the man’s workroom and tells him there is a fleet of airships coming. The man rushes back to his workshop to complete his invention.
Meanwhile, suspended from the airships are platforms where three men throw bombs down on the British countryside. The bombs destroy a tank, buildings and a train depot and start many fires. A counter attack is launched with airplanes and an armored car but they are not sufficient to bring down the airships.
One bomb lands on the house of the man’s girlfriend. He saves her from the burning building but her father dies. The young man finishes his work on his missile and launches it at an airship destroying it. Those on the ground rejoice and the young man and young woman get engaged.
“The Airship Destroyer” AKA “Der Luftkrieg Der Zukunft” AKA "The Battle of the Clouds" (UK) AKA "The Battle in the Clouds" (U.S.) was released in 1909 and was directed by Walter R. Booth. It is a British silent science fiction film and a propaganda movie. It is also the first film in a trilogy of science fiction films done by Booth. The other two films were “The Aerial Submarine” 1910 and “Aerial Anarchists” 1911. The films are considered the first British sci-fi series. Unfortunately “Aerial Anarchists” is a lost film.
Some believe the film was Inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel “The War in the Air” 1908. The only existing print of the film is about six or seven minutes long. Much of that are fragments put together. There is a debate on how long the original film was some say eleven minutes and some say as much as twenty minutes. More than just an experiment in photography the movie has a story, although truncated.
Even though the nationality of the bombers is never named it is assumed that they are German. The original title of the film, “Der Luftkrieg Der Zukunft”, which literally means, “The Air War the Future” or “The Future of Air War” is German. Germany was also leading the way in Zeppelin technology and in 1909 they were talking about war.
Walter Booth was a magician and a pioneer in film animation and special effects similar to George Melies and Segundo De Chomon. Booth’s film is noted for a couple things. In many circles it is believed to be the first science fiction film. It also features an armored car or tank, which wasn’t invented yet.
The film was re-released in 1915, during WWI, as “The Aerial Torpedo”. By then zeppelins were being used in aerial attacks. Britain’s formation of the Royal Flying Corp. ended the zeppelin attacks but by the end of the war more than 1500 British citizens had died during air raids.