Saturday, April 5, 2008

1. Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) - 1902

Director: Georges Méliès

Synopsis: A scientist proposes a trip to the moon. Their space craft is essentially a giant bullet fired out of a cannon. On the moon, they are attacked by the Selenites which inhabit the moon. The astronauts escape and return to Earth.

Review: This movie is amazing. I have seen a number of movies that predate this and none of them come close to this one. Up to this point, the only thing truly amazing in film would have been seeing a picture COME ALIVE! for the first time.

The movie is, depending on the frame rate of your print, is at least four times longer than anything that before it. It's also actually interesting. Seeing traffic cross Leeds bridge or workers leaving the Lumière Factory would have been cool in the 1800s, but this is an actual movie instead of a camera pointed at something for 30 seconds.

The special effects and set design hold up surprisingly well. It is thankfully not Michael Bay's Trasnformers (sic), but it still looks quite good. One can figure out how the tricks are done, but cinema has conditioned our eyes over the 100+ years since this was released.

The only real fault of the film, and it is a minor fault, is the plot is weak. I know that A Trip To The Moon is only 12 minutes long and up against movies with no narrative structure. It really is "Let's go to the moon. We are on the moon. How strange it is here. We must escape the Selenites. We have escaped them." I feel pretty bad about knocking it because I like this movie quite a bit.

One of the things I like most about this movie is the ideas that turn of the century people thought about the moon. Not only does it snow, but there are creatures living on it. There are giant mushrooms. I know this is fantasy, but I think part of this is based on ideas people might have actually held at the time.

I really recommend seeing this. It's only a few minutes long and public domain. So go to Youtube or google video. I don't really know what the official soundtrack is supposed to be, but this one has the most ridiculous soundtrack, voice over and sound effects. I swear when I saw this a few years ago, it did not have narration.

Score: 8/10

A longer, hand colored version apparently exists. If anyone knows where to find it, please tell me.

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