The intergalactic council is facing a major problem with one of its main space stations, the Margot. Ships sent out from the colony are mysteriously disappearing and the council holds an emergency meeting where Professor Maria Scholl (Cox Habbema) and Professor Tal (Rolf Hoppe) clash over what is to be done. Eventually the council vote to stop ships flying from the station until further notice, and in a quiet moment Maria has a word with Tal, offering commiserations with him that his daughter was on one of the missing ships. But Tal seems to know this already, even though the information has not been made public yet...
Made at the DEFA studios in the then East Germany with a cast largely made up of East Europeans, Eolomea was one of the few science fiction movies to come out of that country. Written by Angel Vagenstein it takes place in a very functional future rather than a glossy, high tech one, and everyone in space would seem to want to be elsewhere, such as back on Earth or with a loved one. Maria's own boyfriend is Daniel (Ivan Andonov), who is stuck on an isolated asteroid base with his co-worker Kun (Vsevolod Sanajev); Daniel misses Maria (and has her pet tortoise to remind him of her) while Kun wishes he could meet the son he left behind years ago.
Daniel and Kun are similar to inter-galactic lighthouse keepers, carrying out an essential task but feeling the loneliness of their situation only too strongly. And what of the title? Eolomea is a supposed planet that was discovered by Tal and was a celebrated case for a while, but now no-one is sure it even exists. The significance of it grows clearer as the film draws on as it comes to represent the knowledge and achievement as yet undiscovered and unreached by the pioneering humans. Interestingly, the council body is made up of many nations, as if humankind has put aside its differences to explore the stars.
The film is so sentimental about Earth that there is a wealth of flashbacks and melancholy episodes set there as Daniel and Maria recall their time there together. We are frequently shown how they both met at an idyllic beach resort, which stands for the wonderful time they enjoyed before the demands of science set them apart. And so Daniel wanders out onto the surface of the asteroid in his space suit to gaze longingly at the faraway sun, or drowns his sorrows in the alcohol he has smuggled on board. The sacrifices everyone involved with space exploration makes are always being alluded to.
After a while you begin to wonder if the film makers have forgotten about the disappearing people of the Margot, but in the film's last half hour Maria and her crew set out to investigate when one of the missing ships reappears. Their craft attempts to get alongside the ship, and two cosmonauts are sent to break into it when no signal is received from them when suddenly it pulls away at high speed. Off Maria and co. go to the Margot to see if there's anyone there, but on docking with the station there is nobody to be found - nobody except Daniel and one of science fiction's clunkiest robots. The enigma is about to be solved. Eolomea is well made, with attractive and painstakingly realised special effects, but a surprisingly downhearted film of what and who must be left behind in the journey for progress. Music by Gunther Fischer.