Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

REVIEWED FOR: 1001 Movie Club

How does someone truly review one of the first narrative films of all time? How does someone judge the accuracy of a science fiction film that predates modern knowledge in ways we can only hope to experience one day? That's the difficulty with watching this 1902 classic eight minute piece of cinema.

There's very little opportunity with this film to evaluate the film in terms of narrative flow, acting ability, character development, and cinematic style. When it was created almost none of those things existed in the world of cinema. Which in many respects makes A Trip to the Moon simply unrivaled in stature or importance. 

Georges Melies shaped the future of cinema in ways you and I will never fully understand. Where many saw trains and walking people, he saw the ability to create magic. To transport a viewer to a world beyond sight and sound. The ability to blend animation and science fiction, with stage originated storytelling, Melies was able to create a whole new world of entertainment right before everyone's eyes.

The career magician made a number of films after having first experienced moving pictures in 1895. These films, numbering in the 500's, detailed techniques, such as the blending of animation/artistry to create a seamless story without resorting to off screen narrators, or cue cards to describe events that could not be illustrated otherwise. 

There is no denying that A Trip to the Moon is painfully outdated. However, we'd all love to still look as grand and awe inspiring at 108 as Melies classic does. A Trip to the Moon is equal parts entertaining, fun, silly, outlandish, and just downright absurd. Making it a perfect mantle piece for things I love about cinema. Melies put time, heart, and genius into this film, and that's something to which I hold nothing but eternal respect.

*You can see the film in its entirety, here.

3 better thoughts:

Ronan said...

"a perfect mantle piece for things I love about cinema", love this line Ryan. I think films like this, though I've never seen it, can only be described as a trip back to the future, a prophetic glance at the future of cinema in films like Avatar and Tron, which are standing on the shoulders of giants like Melies and achieveing things only he could have imagined.

Simon said...

The effects in this are, I think, better than half the ones made today. At least, they're cooler to look at. Stop-motion always is.

Squish said...

"Georges Melies shaped the future of cinema in ways you and I will never fully understand. Where many saw trains and walking people, he saw the ability to create magic." It's obvious the leap people would make from theater to Film - literal translations happened all the time during this era, but you are absolutely correct - Mélié saw the Illusionist's boon in film and ran with it. In fact A Trip To The Moon was one of the least 'played with' films George Mélié produced, his sleight of hand and special effects being used for subtlety and storytelling rather than the magic he was used to doing, and this is the one that stuck because the narrative was so strong. Great review, Univarn.

And welcome back :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails