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A Trip To The Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) 1902

September 1, 2017

Released today in 1902, ‘A Trip To The Moon’ directed by Georges Méliès, was the first of the science fiction genre (and one of the first vehicular) to grace the screen. The film was inspired in part by Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and H. G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon (1901), and shot on one reel (825 feet of celluloid) at an astronomical cost of over 10,000 francs. 

The film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon’s surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite.

“The greatest difficulty in realising my own ideas forced me to sometimes play the leading role in my films … I was a star without knowing I was one, since the term did not yet exist.” – Georges Méliès

Created by the pioneering french filmmaker and magician, Méliès made over 500 films, inventing groundbreaking directorial, production, and special effects techniques as he went. He is estimated to have acted in over 250 of those films as well.

While the film received critical acclaim, it was also widely bootlegged. less than 20 years later most printed were lost or melted down for boot heels during the war effort.

The film was almost entirely lost for decades, and until 1993 it was unknown that the film was originally released in hand painted color as well as black and white. The discovered print dating to before 1906, was restored and released at the Cannes Festival in 2011. The New York Times noted that the discovery and re-release was “surely a cinematic highlight of the year, maybe the century.”

A  Trip To The Moon fits snuggly into the Cine Meccanica vehicular film collection, for the mechanical ingenuity of production at the time, and the limitless reach of the industrial revolution to transport the body and mind to another place by way of machine. Set your sites on the moon, light the cannon fuse and away we go!



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