Saturday, April 2, 2016

Revisiting the Classics -- A Trip to the Moon

Today we have the 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon, directed by the great French filmmaker Georges Méliès.

There really isn't a whole lot in terms of story to this one. A group of explorers builds a rocket and launches themselves to the moon. There they meet the moon people and are chased back to Earth before being towed via ship to port. At fourteen minutes, it may be very short by modern standards, but at the time it was Méliès' longest film. The movie is notable for Méliès' groundbreaking special effects.

Actually, the real purpose of this post is to introduce our readers to Georges Méliès. He was a revolutionary director who pioneered new special effects such as time-lapse photography, reel splicing, dissolves and colorization by hand. His films are known for their whimsy and dreamlike qualities. To watch one is to watch a dream itself. He was unbelievably imaginative and way ahead of his time. Playing both actor and director, he was also hard-working.

He also led the way in colorization. An entire team of women were dedicated to hand-painting each frame, a laborious process but one which was very important to the cinema industry.

Méliès made over 500 films, but most of those have been lost due to either degradation or his own rebellious spirit; in 1923 he lost his company to a rival and, in protest, destroyed the majority of his reels. Even more were melted down by the French army during World War I. Thankfully, many of them survived and can still be enjoyed today on home video.

If you haven't experienced the magic of Méliès, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. Get on Amazon, order any one of his surviving film collections and discover this cinematic master for yourself.

George Méliès
A Trip to the Moon
Another great Méliès film: The Astronomer's Dream

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