Kym Mumford

Space & Environment

George Méliès “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” ( 1902) Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) also known as A Trip to the Moon is Loosely based on two popular novels at the time, Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon. The film was written and directed by Georges Méliès, it’s a short 14 minute production. It was extremely popular at the time of it’s release leading to a number of illegal copies being made. Known as one of the very first science fiction films and thought of by some as one of the influential films of its time such as Wheeler Winston Dixon “As a template for what was to come in the next hundred years, and simply as an entertainment, Le Voyage dans la lune is a cinema landmark, and still immensely entertaining and influential.” (Wheeler, D). Figure 1 The film follows the story of a group of

astronomers taking a trip to the moon. They build a capsule in the shape of a bullet and a huge cannon shoots it into space. Their ‘rocket’ hits ‘the man in the moon’ right in his eye, this being one of the most iconic shots from the movie. Landing safely they get out the capsule and fall asleep, where a series of different starts and constellations appear with human faces, awakening the astronomers for their sleep (shown in figure 2). At this point they encounter an alien inhabitant which is easily killed by one of the astronomers, when hit by his umbrella and promptly turns into a puff of smoke. More of these creatures appear and they soon become surrounded. They are captured and taken to their leader. An astronomer picks him up Figure 2

throwing him to the ground where he to turns into a puff of smoke. This causes an uproar and the astronomers are chased back to their casual where all but one get inside. The astronomer that remained outside uses a rope to tip the capsule off a ledge on the moon and they fall into space, and land in the ocean safely on earth.

Kym Mumford

Space & Environment

“A Trip to the Moon is a delight, a work of pure, playful imagination, a picture-book fantasy brought to life with intricate, hand-painted sets and a whimsical portrait of science as wizardry by way of the industrial revolution, and the then-revolutionary film effects perfected in his “trick films” are here incorporated into the storytelling.” (Axmaker, S). The set design for Le Voyage Dans la Lune is such that the viewer is drawn into its depths and one could perceive that this fantastical world is in fact real, helped by the perspective and scale of the backdrops. However the whole style of Méliès set suggests that of a theatre production, from the 2-D back drops, down to the stationary, far back position of the camera. Where Axmaker seems to have nothing but praise for the short film there are some who felt the film lacked in certain aspects, the words of Ken Dancyger “Although Méliès’s films grew to a length of 14 minutes, they remained a series of single shots: tableaus that recorded a performed scene. All of the shots were strung together. The camera was stationary and distant from the Figure 3 action. The physical lengths of the shots were not varied for impact. Performance, not pace, was the prevailing intention. The films were edited to the extent that they consisted of more than one shot, but A Trip to the Moon is no more than a series of amusing shots, each a scene unto itself. The shots tell a story, but not in the manner to which we are accustomed. It was not until the work of Edwin S. Porter that editing became more purposeful.” (Dancyger, K). Le Voyage Dans la Lune is an impressive film of it’s time, bringing a little bit of comedy and a fantastical science fiction world that to this day is still influential and thought of as one of the classics. Using only a few film tricks know at the time Méliès created a film that has survived the times with a simple yet effective story line, something that seems to be lacking in today’s industry.

Kym Mumford

Space & Environment

List of illustrations Figure 1: Le voyage dans la lune cover at: http://www.movieposterdb.com/poster/1940316c/ Figure 2: At earthshine at: http://www.blog-bazar.com/le-voyage-dans-la-lune/ Figure 3: http://www.myspace.com/apersonapaperapromise/photos/20463041#%7B%22ImageId%22%3A20 463041%7D Bibliography Wheeler, Dixon Winston available at: http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-critic-reviews/levoyage-dans-la-lune/ [accessed online] Axmaker, Sean (2011) available at: http://social.entertainment.msn.com/movies/blogs/videodroneblogpost.aspx?post=3ac31623-c300-486b-9751-f0000bd98721 [accessed online] Dancyger, Ken (2002) The technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory and Practice. New York: Focal Press, 2002