- A Trip to the Moon
name = A Trip to the Moon
producer = Georges Méliès
writer = Georges Méliès
starring = Georges Méliès
cinematography = Michaut
distributor = Gaston Méliès
released = September 1, 1902 (France)
October 4, 1902 (USA)
runtime = 14 min (at 16 fps)
8 min (at 25 fps)
language = none
budget = 10,000FF
amg_id = 1:149709
imdb_id = 0000417 "A Trip to the Moon" (French: " _fr. Le Voyage dans la lune") is a 1902 French
black and whitesilent science fictionfilm. It is loosely based on two popular novels of the time: " From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verneand " The First Men in the Moon" by H. G. Wells.cite web|first=Tim |last=Dirks |title=A Trip to The Moon |work= FilmSite.org |url=http://www.filmsite.org/voya.html |accessdate=2007-01-08]
The film was written and directed by
Georges Méliès, assisted by his brother Gaston. The film runs 14 minutes if projected at 16 frames per second, which was the standard frame rateat the time the film was produced. It was extremely popular at the time of its release and is the best-known of the hundreds of fantasy films made by Méliès. "A Trip to the Moon" is the first science fictionfilm, and utilizes innovative animationand special effects, including the iconic shot of the rocketship landing in the moon's eye.
It was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th Century by "
The Village Voice", ranking in at #84. [http://www.filmsite.org/villvoice.html]
At a meeting of astronomers, their president proposes a trip to the
Moon. After addressing some dissent, six brave astronomers agree to the plan. They build a space capsule in the shape of a bullet, and a huge cannon to shoot it into space. The astronomers embark and their capsule is fired from the cannon with the help of a bevy of beautiful women in sailors' outfits. The Man in the Moonwatches the capsule as it approaches, and it hits him in the eye.
Landing safely on the Moon, the astronomers get out of the capsule and watch the
Earthrise in the distance. Exhausted by their journey, the astronomers unroll their blankets and sleep. As they sleep, a cometpasses, the Big Dipperappears with human faces peering out of each star, old Saturnleans out of a window in his ringed planet, and Phoebe, goddess of the Moon, appears seated in a crescent-moon swing. Phoebe calls down a snowfall that wakens the astronomers. They seek shelter in a cavern and discover giant mushrooms. One astronomer opens his umbrella; it promptly takes root and turns into a giant mushroom itself.
At this point, a Selenite (an
insectoid alien inhabitant of the Moon, named after Selene) appears, but it is easily killed by an astronomer, as the creatures explode if they are hit with a hard force. More Selenites appear and it becomes increasingly difficult for the astronomers to destroy them as they are surrounded. The Selenites arrest the astronomers and bring them to their leader. An astronomer picks the Chief Selenite up off its throne and dashes him to the ground, exploding him.
The astronomers run back to their capsule (continuing to hit the pursuing Selenites on the way). Five get inside. The sixth uses a rope to tip the capsule over a ledge on the Moon and into space. A Selenite tries to seize the capsule at the last minute. Astronomer, capsule, and Selenite fall through space and land in an ocean on Earth. The Selenite falls off and the capsule floats back to the surface, where they are rescued by a ship and towed ashore.
When originally screened, the film featured a final scene depicting a celebratory parade in honor of the travelers' return. Until recently, this scene was considered lost, and did not appear on any commercially available editions. However, a complete cut of the film was discovered in a French barn in 2002. Not only is it the most complete cut of the movie, but it is also entirely hand-colored. It was restored and premiered in 2003 at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival.cite web | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0000417/trivia | title=Trivia for Voyage dans la lune, Le | publisher=Amazon | work=IMDB | accessdate=2007-01-11] The complete film is now available on the extensive new box set.
Some historians suggest that although "A Trip to the Moon" was among the most technically innovative films up until that time, it still displays a primitive understanding of narrative film technique. American film scholar Ken Dancyger writes that the film is "no more than a series of amusing shots, each a scene unto itself. The shots tell a story, but not in the manner to which we are accustomed. It was not until the work of American
Edwin S. Porterthat editing became more purposeful."Dancyger, Ken. "The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice". New York: Focal Press, 2002.] However, it has been said that Porter was inspired partially "by the length and quality of Méliès's work."
Although most of the editing in "A Trip to the Moon" is purely functional, there is one unusual choice: when the astronomers land onto the lunar surface, the "same event is shown twice, and very differently"citebook|last=Sklar|first=Robert|title=Film: An International History of the Medium|publisher=Thames and Hudson|date=c. 1990] the first time it is shown crashing into the eye of the man in the moon; the second time it is shown landing on the moon's flat terrain. The concept of showing an action twice in different ways was experimented with again by Porter in his film, "
Life of an American Fireman", released roughly a year after "A Trip to the Moon".
Some have claimed that the film was one of the earliest examples of
pataphysicalfilm, while stating that the film aims to "show the illogicality of logical thinking." Others still have remarked that the director, Georges Méliès, aimed in the film to "invert the hierarchal values of modern French society and hold them up to ridicule in a riot of the carnivalesque." This is seen as an inherent part of the film's plot; the story itself pokes fun at the scientists and at science in general: upon traveling to the moon, these astronomers find that the face of the moon is, in fact, the face of a man, and that it is populated by little green men.cite book|title=The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood|first=Alison|last=McMahan|year=2005|publisher=Continuum InternationalPublishing Group|isbn=0826415660]
Méliès had intended to release the film in the United States to profit from it; however,
Thomas Edison's film technicians secretly made copies of it and distributed it throughout the country. Méliès never profited from it and eventually went broke.
History of film
*" [http://www.archive.org/details/Levoyagedanslalune Download] " — Le Voyage dans la Lune (English narration) from the
*" [http://www.archive.org/details/le_voyage_dans_la_lune Download] " — Le Voyage dans la Lune (French narration) from the
*" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kpnbl3tn58&NR=1 A Trip to the Moon] " — YouTube Streaming Video (hand-colored with narrated stills of missing final scene)
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