Friday, February 09, 2007

"A Trip to the Moon" (1902)

This is the first in a 1012 part series about the movies you should watch before you kick the bucket.

This is a black and white film otherwise known as "Le Voyage dans la lune" is a French film based on two novels of the time, one by Jules Verne "From the Earth to the Moon" and one by H.G. Wells "The First Men on the Moon".

It was directed and written by Georges Melies. It's quite short at around 14 minutes and is actually the very first science fiction film. You might know the famous scene where the rocket crashes into the moon's eye.

The president of an astronomer's group proposes a trip to the Moon. Eventually, six of the astronomers end up going. Keep in mind that these are astronomers and not astronauts. They build a spaceship in the shape of a bullet and use a cannon to laungh themselves into space. That's right folks, a cannon.

When they land you can see that apparently the moon has a breathable atmostphere. It also starts to snow and the group runs into a cavern full of mushrooms. Things get even weirder when one of the astronomers pulls out an umbrella.

My favourite part of the movie thought was when the group was attacked by the alien inhabitants called Selenites. When they get hit they explode, an early example of special effects. But the Selenites end up being too much for the group and they're taken to the Selenite king.

The film originally featured a final scene with a parade in honour of the astronomers. For almost a hundred year this scene was believed to be lost but a complete cut of the film was found in a French barn of all places in 2002. It's actually the most complete cut of the film and it was also hand-coloured. The full screening of the film happened in 2003 at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival.

Melies had planned to release the film in the US to make some money but Thomas Edison's film technicians illegally made copies of the film and distributed it around the country and made money off of it. Yet another reason to think poorly of Edison. What a complete jerk. This may be the first recorded case of what could be deemed illegal downloading. Poor Melies never made money from the piece and eventually went broke.

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