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A TRIP TO THE MOON (Voyage dans la lune, Le)(director/writer: Georges Melies; screenwriter: based on the novel De la Terre a la Lune by Jules Verne; cinematographer: Michaut Lucien Tainguy; cast: Georges Melies (Astronaut), Bleuette Bernon (Lady in the Moon), Georges Melies (Prof. Barbenfouillis), Victor Andre, Henri Delannoy, Depierre, Jeanne d’Alcy; Runtime: 14; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Georges Melies; Facets; 1902-silent-France-with an English narrator)
“Cinema’s first science fiction story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Renown French director and master magician Georges Melies (1861-1938) creates cinema’s first science fiction story. It was based on the Jules Verne story. It’s a primitive and daffy undertaking, but still a very funny satire on scientists. The popular and acclaimed silent short caused Melies considerable pleasure as well as grief, as it was pirated and the illegal copies provided no royalties. As a result he sent his brother Gaston to NYC to avoid future conflicts over copyrights.

A scientist (Georges Melies) from the Incoherent Astronomy Society decides to visit the moon with several of his colleagues by having a shell shot from a giant cannon, as scantily dressed assistants (from the Ch√Ętelet ballet) help in the lift off. The scientists land on the moon after hitting it in its eye. This image of the lunar capsule landing in the eye of the moon has become a famous one in cinematic history. Once on the moon the scientists have some comical adventures with the native moon-dwellers, called Selenites, who are armed with spears and dressed in skeleton costumes to appear maybe like African warriors. After escaping from their captors, they return to Earth and are honored with a parade.

Melies raided the local music halls for actors and to the Folies-Bergere for skilled acrobats to play the rowdy moon-dwellers. One of the actresses, the petite Jeanne d’Alcy, became Melies’ second wife in 1926. The film took four months to make and for its time cost a whopping 10,000 francs.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”