Le Voyage Dans La Lune (AKA: A Trip to the Moon) – 1902
Director – Georges Melies
They called director George Melies, the magician, due to level of special effects and fantasy storytelling in his work (well…that and the fact that before working in film he was a magician by trade). His most famous creation, Le Voyage Dans La Lune, or A Trip to the Moon, was a real watershed moment in the history of film. Simple in camera tricks, fades, dissolves, not to mention his love of special effects, were monumental stepping stones for the modern structure and the overall language of film today. His techniques were utilized and added upon by later masters such as D.W. Griffith (who despite his controversy, is widely considered the father of film editing), and were subsequently adopted as staples of the language of film.
At just over 12 minutes, story of A Trip to the Moon is a relatively simple one. A group of astronomers and learned men pile into a rocket, and are fired in a large cannon all the way to the moon. Once there, the men discover a strange and alien world filled with mirthsome stars, and angry constellations. Due to a snow storm created by Jupiter (the god?) they are driven underground into a subterranian cavern.
It is in this underground castle that the story really picks up steam. They encounter a humanoid creature that jumps around frantically and suprises the men. Typically of humans, they react violently, hitting him with an umbrella which causes him to explode into dust and smoke. The moon man’s enraged kinsman launch an assault on the earthlings, eventually capturing them although not before they kill a bunch more of the moon people. The men are brought before the king of the moon, who chastises them for their cruelty. What happens next? They break free and kill the king of course. The earthlings escape their captors and get back to their ship, manageing to fall back to earth to land in the ocean and be rescued.
The story is brief, but imagination it took to realize it visually was astounding. At the time, the Lumiere brothers and Edison and his Black Maria company were putting out slice of life type films, that showed people leaving the factory, or a train coming into the station. Melies not only constructed a story with a beginning, middle, and an end, but he also filled in the blanks on the visual side of things. Stars and constellations came to life, and monsters sprang from the ground and were dispatched in a shocking and exciting manner. The most famous image from this masterwork shows the face of the moon with the scientists rocket lodged in it’s eye. The experiences and imagery that Melies gave to his audiences were things they had never seen before. Things that defied logic, yet they were there on the screen. They are some of the most enduring images ever produced. Truely Melies was a magician.
So this film, the first film on the long list, is my 20th full review. That means, when you combine the 300 movies that I’ve already seen from the list with these 20 that I’ve watched specifically for it, I’ve seen 32 percent of the entire thing. This puts the total that I’ve reviewed at 70 even, thats counting the bulk reviews that I’ve done so far of course. Not too shabby. I’m still having fun, and I’m still excited to watch more and continue on to the end!
“I think it might have been staged.” – Ashley