Georges Méliès : A Trip to the Moon (1902)

A Trip to the Moon is a film by Georges Méliès released on 1 September 1902.

With this 14 minutes film representing an event that still was a dream at the time of production, Georges Méliès couldn’t have shown better his impressive range of skills that made him one of the biggest if not the biggest filmmaker in the first years of cinema.

Based on Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, thus an adaptation of literature works, which is something extremely common in the birth of a new medium, George Méliès in this film used his experience as theatre actor an magician to create what would become a model for subsequent cinematographic productions.

Indeed, the impressive work on the settings and the costumes really is theatre tainted and to the must subtle elements, we really feel Méliès has been very focused on. Writer, actor, producer, setting and costume designer ; he really played all the roles so efficiently in this film that everything that has been done in this new cinematic medium is perfectly well associated and brought together to offer its best ; many goals are thus reached here.

By perfectly controlling this wide range of previously mentioned skills ; he literally created new an inspiring techniques for people to acquire and handle, a number of ground breaking cinematographic effects shaping the face and path of cinema ; superimpositions, dissolving pictures…

The theatrical heritage is very clear notably in the interpretation and the presence of big gestures like mitigating the non presence of sound (which will come 30 years later) is a good example to that, especially in the beginning of the film, during the scientific convention preparing the trip to the moon, which by its own greatness can also explain these apparent excitement.

Finally, the writing itself draws the attention, by dealing with key subjects in the history of humanity ; nationalism, colonialism, and a never-ending will to go further, in a setting where dreams are always very important, their representation allowing different readings. Is this dreaming scene representing the will to constantly go further or does it just mean that the characters have achieved something that still is a dream in real life ? The strength of this sequence really resides in this reverberation effect.

It is thus the history of humanity and its dreams that is remarkably recounted  in this film deservedly considered as a landmark of the first year of cinema ; which magic still allows the realisation of even bigger dreams.



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