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22 June 2011

[Silent Film Marathon] 8# Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902)


Directed by: Georges Mêliés
Written & Produce by: Georges Mêliés
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure
Runtime: 14-16 Minutes (various versions)

The title translates to ‘A Trip to the moon’ and may very well be the very first science-fiction/fantasy film. It’s hard to give something like this a rating because it’s more on the fascinating side. Even saying that it’s way of storytelling through the 14 minute duration it is packed with delightful imagery and great movement in the actors. I was very impressed with some of the effects and being only 2 years in to the 20th century, it’s very impressive. All the way from France, from director Georges Mêliés, a pioneer film maker, and is said to be the inventor of the very first special effect. The stories oldness is great because it shows what people must have thought about going to the moon.


To this year, the film is 107 years old and it is one of the earliest films that exist. It’s truly fascinating to watch. It only has a runtime of 14 minutes and I thought it could have had some sort of remake in the later years of silent film. In these 14 
minutes it’s a strange but pleasant journey of Astronomers in their attempt to going to the moon.


Plot:

A group of astronomers are gathered by a President called Barbenfouillis (Georges Mêliés) who convinces them to travel to the moon with him by proposing his plan. His plan was to use a ship and to use it to travel straight to the moon. With one person as the only opposition, his plan is accepted. Barbenfouillis chooses 5 men to go with him and their ship is assembled. When the ship is done, they go to the moon and hits it by its eyes. They take a rest...but trouble is getting closer to them and they have to get out of the moon and go back to earth before they lose their chance to do so. Truly a short masterpiece of a story.   

A Directorial Achievement:
Mêliés directed this film wonderfully and for the time it is pretty impressive. It’s clear he put a lot of thought into the set design and narrative to help the audience understand, and let’s not forget that he plays the character  The director went on to making more films after this such as 20, 000 leagues under the sea. Some people today say 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.

A very imaginative world and vision
Even with the astronomers the film is very imaginative and feels slightly childish, but in a good way. It is very playful in a way and is a fascinating fantasy film. The creativity astounded me. When I saw that moon’s face in movement for the first time, after seeing several images the very special effect impressed me. The next great thing was when they hit the moon. I was really amazed by the sets when they got to the moon. They just had this strange feel of early fantasy to them. They were fake-esque and that’s what gave it its excellence. The other thing it how people must have thought the moon looked like and making the moon have life on it was very creative. During this time people would have been very unknowing that about 65 year later someone would land on the moon. There seem to be a slight depth to the story which is why it’s unfortunate it was not remade into possible a 3-reel silent film later. They arrive at the world and are captured by the strange alien race, called “Selenite’s”.  A lot of thought went in to the set design to decipher what they were going for to help the audience understand, and Mêliés completely nailed it.
One of the film's imagery workings.
The Selenite’s
The Selenite’s are strange little green creatures, and I was fascinate by how even during that time people thought there was life on the moon. These little jumpy creatures explode when they are hit, silly as it is, it’s strangely amusing. On the arrival of the astronomers the selenite’s soon capture them, but the president soon violently kills the king of the Selenite’s by violently lifting him and throwing him at the ground. The scene to me seems really aggressive, and it was the point the film felt it had depth to it.
The Astronomers escaping.
Overall:
So 107 years later people are still discovering Georges Mêliés’ classic and it is a truly fascinating spectacle of a film that seems to astound even the modern day viewer. Le Voyage Dans La Lune is simply one of the finest silent films because of it’s wonderful imagery, terrific simplicity and the astounding says the effects must have been done. For a story that lasts 14 minutes, it’s worth all that time. Each minute of the story is filled with imaginative scenes. So overall, if you’re a film enthusiast or just a modern day film fan, it’s really worth checking out one of the earliest films of the 20th century.

I decided not to rate this film, it isn't that kind of film.

4 comments:

  1. It's definitely one of the best. I have watched it a lot of times now...since it has a short length. It's such a beautiful short film. nice review

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where do you find stuff like this man!
    Wonderful review!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds really interesting. Being a science chick, I could totally dig this. Thanks for your insight and bringing attention to lesser know films and shorts out there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You can find the whole film on Youtube.

    ReplyDelete

 

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