A Trip to the Moon (Georges Melies, 1902, France)

A Trip to the Moon is Georges Melies pioneering science fiction short, originally completed in 1902. While many of his contemporaries were focused on filming actualities, or scenes of real life, Melies had a background in the theater and his film conveys that sense of theatricality. His 1902 film was based primarily on the novel From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and Around the Moon (1870), both by Jules Verne. The film finds its antecedents in the "feerie" or "fairy play". This was a style of French theater that revolved around lavish scenery, fantastic plots, and supernatural elements. 

The film's story is relatively simple but represented the first science fiction film ever made. It tells the story of a group of astronomers who shoot to the Moon in a capsule. The image of the astronomer's capsule hitting the face of the moon is by far one of the most iconic moments in film history. This playfulness is what lends the film its sense of timelessness. Upon arriving on the planet, they encounter a group of moon people - played with a great deal of intensity by several acrobats - who pursue them in a chase. The astronomers successfully capture one of them and eventually return home to Earth safely, greeted by a parade. 


A Trip to the Moon was a massive success on both sides of the Atlantic, but it did not make Melies any money. The film was largely pirated, including by the Edison Corporation. Thankfully the film was rediscovered in the 1930s, and since then more prints have been discovered. It remains Melies best-known film by far, and perhaps the most seen film from the earliest days of cinema. Melies was a pioneer of film language and had a unique style that is still influential today over 120 years later. 


9/10

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