A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Day: January 5th, Movie: 5

A 2-hour delay for school today opened up an opportunity to complete the Genre-ary Sci-Fi DailyView right away this morning. I am heading to see Megan tonight so I had scheduled a short to watch and, thanks to HBO Max, I was able to watch the original sci-fi short, Georges Méliès’s groundbreaking film, A Trip to the Moon.

This is the oldest movie on the site, being listed at 1902. A Trip to the Moon is an influential film by the French filmmaker and is widely considered the first science fiction movie. The version I saw on HBO Max had some color added to it. I do not know if that color was added recently or if it was from the original. According to Wikipedia, color prints “were produced for a small percent of Méliès’s films and advertised alongside the black-and-white versions at a higher price.” This make me suspect that this version on HBO Max could be one of these.

The film is an amazing achievement by Georges Méliès as the 14-minute film included a narrative structure, despite not having any dialogue or any word screens as many silent films would use. Some of the effects were very creative for the time and Méliès effectively used several camera techniques to create the illusion of what he wanted to happen. I can only imagine the stir that this film and its originality and its subject matter caused.

Inspired by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells among others, Georges Méliès brought the idea of science fiction to the movie world. He included a score over the film and, apparently, there were times when a narrator spoke over the film, explaining what was happening. Georges Méliès starred in the film as Professor Barbenfouillis, the president of the Astronomy Club and your main character.

The imagery of the cannon-powered rocket ship embedded in the “face” of the moon is an iconic image that has been used many times. My first memory of the image and reference to this film came from Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo. A Trip to the Moon brought a sensation to the film industry, which was just starting out, proving that you could tell a story and involve the audience in a piece of entertainment. The film helped show that anything was possible and the only limitations was the imagination.

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