Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) 3 Stars
A Trip To The Moon
France (Star) 14m Silent BW
Director + Producer: George Méliès
Screenplay: George Méliès, from the novel De la Terre à la Lune by Jules Verne
Photography: Michaut, Lucien Tainguy
Cast: Victor André, Bleuette Bernon, Brunnet, Jeanne d’Alcy, Henri Delannoy, Depierre, Farjaut, Kelm, George Méliès
This short film is reminiscent more of a pantomime than any modern film; this is most likely due to the only basis for films of the time being plays. Furthermore Méliès began his career as a theatre actor and magician – a clear theme from the film visible from the star robes and pointed hats of the cast.
Cinema techniques used include superimpositions, dissolves, and many other editing practices that would still be used deep into the twentieth century; in this way the film is regarded as ground-breaking. In addition, the storyline – one of extra-terrestrial adventure and discovery – is seen as one of the first of its time to define fictional cinema, in a time when most films portrayed daily life; such as the films of the Lumière brothers at the end of the 19th century.
The film includes many iconic images such as one of the moon, represented by a man’s face covered in some form of white paste – an image to be alluded to even in modern comedies such as ‘The Mighty Boosh’. However, I believe that the film (despite its comical tendencies) has a deeply satirical message for its time regarding colonialisation. This is shown by the headstrong scientists who move to the Moon’s beautiful and amazing world and defile it by murdering its king and people – they then ‘escape’ and return to Paris to be hailed as heroes in a set which seems almost identical to the courtroom in which they murdered the ‘Selenite’ king.
To conclude this film is an absurd, bumbling, comical play, which has been put to camera. Its experimentation with visual effects and costume is highly influential in cinema and there is an argument for a satirical point on colonialisation and imperialism present.