The first thing that I need to say about this film is ‘wow.’ Only 14 minutes long, Le Voyage dans la Lune (Melies 1902) is highly enthralling. Keep in mind that this film was made in 1902 and the special effects are astonishing. During the time when film is just being discovered, Melies is already playing with camera tricks, dissolves, cuts, and it’s all a story. There were not a lot of fictional films in the beginning of cinema. If I’m not mistaken, early cinema was just real life on camera, like the Lumiere Brothers and their shot of a train coming into a station. The settings are awesome, even by today’s standards I’d say. The sets are obviously fabrications, part interactive and part painted backdrop, however, there are times when they seamlessly flow together. There is a scene in which the “wizards” are standing on a balcony in front of an industrial complex. There is smoke coming out of the stacks, and if you look close enough, they have rigged real flowing water. The fact that these effects were accomplished all through construction is mind-blowing. The storyline itself is fun. Scientists, or “wizards” by the look of them, decide to travel to the moon. They shoot a bullet straight into the eye of the man on the moon. Once there, they encounter moon-people, and finally drop off of the moon into the earth’s ocean. The version I watched is a recently restored edition that comes in a combo pack with Air’s soundtrack inspired by this film. Although the album itself is great, I disliked pieces of it played on top of the film. This film is a masterwork of visuals, and originally it was in black and white with hand painted frames to add color. Le Voyage dans la Lune is all about the look, and it does not disappoint. Find it, watch it.
Next week: D.W. Griffith – The Birth of a Nation (yikes…)