A Trip to the Moon
|A Trip to the Moon|
|Directed by||Georges Méliès|
|Produced by||Georges Méliès|
|Written by||Georges Méliès|
|Studio||Star Film Company|
A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune)[a] is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, it follows a group of astronomers who travel to the moon in a cannon-propelled spaceship, explore the moon's surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return in a splashdown to Earth with a captive Selenite in tow.
The film was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 399–411 in its catalogues. Its total length is about 260 meters (roughly 845 feet) of film, which, at Méliès's preferred projection speed of 12 to 14 frames per second, is about 17 minutes. An internationally popular success at the time of its release, it is the best-known of the hundreds of films made by Méliès, and the moment in which the spaceship lands in the Moon's eye remains one of the most iconic images in the history of cinema. It was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice, ranking at #84, and in 2002 it became the first work designated as a UNESCO World Heritage film.
At a meeting of the Astronomers' Club, their president, Professor Barbenfouillis ("Messybeard"), proposes a trip to the Moon. After addressing some dissent, six brave astronomers agree to the plan. They build a space capsule in the shape of a bullet, and a huge cannon to shoot it into space. The astronomers embark and their capsule is fired from the cannon with the help of "marines", most of whom are portrayed as a bevy of beautiful women in sailors' outfits, while the rest are men. The Man in the Moon watches the capsule as it approaches, and it hits him in the eye. (The image is a visual pun: the phrase dans l'œil, literally "in the eye," is the French equivalent of the English word "bullseye.")
Landing safely on the Moon, the astronomers get out of the capsule and watch the Earth rise in the distance. Exhausted by their journey, the astronomers unroll their blankets and sleep. As they sleep, a comet passes, the Big Dipper appears with human faces peering out of each star, old Saturn leans out of a window in his ringed planet, and Phoebe, goddess of the Moon, appears seated in a crescent-moon swing. Phoebe calls down a snowfall that awakens the astronomers. They seek shelter in a cavern and discover giant mushrooms. One astronomer opens his umbrella; it promptly takes root and turns into a giant mushroom itself.
At this point, a Selenite (an insectoid alien inhabitant of the Moon, named after one of the Greek moon goddesses, Selene) appears, but it is killed easily by an astronomer, as the creatures explode if they are hit with a hard force. More Selenites appear and it becomes increasingly difficult for the astronomers to destroy them as they are surrounded. The Selenites arrest the astronomers and bring them to their commander at the Selenite palace. An astronomer lifts the Chief Selenite off his throne and dashes him to the ground, exploding him.
The astronomers run back to their capsule while continuing to hit the pursuing Selenites, and five get inside. The sixth uses a rope to tip the capsule over a ledge on the Moon and into space. A Selenite tries to seize the capsule at the last minute. Astronomer, capsule, and Selenite fall through space and land in an ocean on Earth. The Selenite falls off and the capsule floats back to the surface, where they are rescued by a ship and towed ashore. The final sequence (missing from some American prints of the film) depicts a celebratory parade in honor of the travelers' return, including the unveiling of a commemorative statue bearing the motto "Labor omnia vincit" (Latin: "work conquers all").
- Georges Méliès as Professor Barbenfouillis
- Bleuette Bernon as Phoebe (the woman on the crescent moon)
- François Lallement as the Officer
- Henri Delannoy as the Captain of the Rocket
- Jules-Eugène Legris as the Parade Leader
- Victor André, Delpierre, Farjaux, Kelm, and Brunnet as the explorers
- Ballet of the Théâtre du Châtelet as stars
- Acrobats of the Folies Bergère as Selenites
When asked in 1930 about his inspirations for the film, Méliès credited Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. Cinema historians, the mid-20th-century French writer Georges Sadoul first among them, have frequently suggested H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon, a French translation of which was published a few months before Méliès made the film, as another likely influence, with Sadoul arguing that the first half of the film (up to the shooting of the projectile) is derived from Verne and that the second half (the travelers' adventures on and in the moon) is derived from Wells.
In addition to these literary sources, the French film historian Thierry Lefebvre has argued that Méliès was heavily influenced by Jacques Offenbach's operetta Le voyage dans la lune (an unauthorized parody of Verne's novels) and by the A Trip to the Moon attraction at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.
The film, Méliès' longest to date, cost ₣10,000 to make. The pseudo-tracking shot in which the camera appears to approach the moon was accomplished using an effect Méliès had invented for his earlier film The Man With the Rubber Head: rather than attempting to move his weighty camera toward an actor, he set a pulley-operated chair upon a rail-fitted ramp, placed the actor (covered up to the neck in black velvet) on the chair, and pulled him toward the camera.
As with at least 4% of Méliès's entire output (including such films as The Kingdom of the Fairies, The Impossible Voyage, The Rajah's Dream, and The Barber of Seville), some prints of A Trip to the Moon were individually hand-colored by Elisabeth Thuillier's coloring lab in Paris.
From September through December 1902, a hand-colored print of A Trip to the Moon was screened at Méliès's theater of illusions, the Thêatre Robert-Houdin, in Paris. The film was shown after Saturday and Thursday matinee performances by Méliès's colleague and fellow magician, Jules-Eugène Legris, who appeared as the leader of the parade in the two final scenes. Méliès also sold black-and-white and color prints through his Star Film Company, and indirectly through Charles Urban's Warwick Trading Company in London.
Méliès had intended to release the film in the United States for profit, but he was never going to see a penny from the film's distribution. Agents of Thomas Edison had seen the film in London. They bribed the theater owner, took the film into a lab and made copies for Edison. The film was a sensation in America and a fortune was made off its exhibition. None of it went to George Méliès, who went bankrupt in 1913. This was due in part to the eventual view which was held towards his films that the special effects were overshadowing the plot.
In an interview of Martin Scorsese by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Scorsese said, "He [Georges Méliès] lost basically most of his financing when the bigger companies came in. What happened here. . . at that time there was a lot going on with copyright and not copyright and that sort of thing." Stewart said, "There is a story that Edison had taken one of his [Georges Méliès] films, brought it to America and showed it and it became enormously popular in America. But Edison decided not to pay I guess what we would call royalties." Scorsese replied: "That's right. So what happened, the film was I think the famous one, 'A Trip to the Moon.' They [Thomas Edison and his associates] were just taking the films and making dupes of them. So that was one of the reasons why he [Georges Méliès] was finished financially, ultimately."
Late in life, Méliès remarked that A Trip to the Moon was "surely not one of my best," but acknowledged that it was widely considered his masterpiece and that "it left an indelible trace because it was the first of its kind." (The film Méliès said he was proudest of was Humanity Through the Ages, a serious historical drama now presumed lost.)
A hand-colored print, the only one known to survive, was rediscovered in 1993 by the Filmoteca de Catalunya. It was in a state of almost total decomposition, but a frame-by-frame restoration was launched in 1999 and completed in 2010 at the Technicolor Lab of Los Angeles. The restored version finally premiered on 11 May 2011, eighteen years after its discovery and 109 years after its original release, at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a new soundtrack by the French band Air. It was released by Flicker Alley as a 2-disc Blu-Ray/DVD edition, also including the documentary The Extraordinary Voyage about its restoration on 10 April 2012. In The New York Times, A. O. Scott called the restoration "surely a cinematic highlight of the year, maybe the century."
Some historians suggest that although A Trip to the Moon was among the most technically innovative films up until that time, it still displays a primitive understanding of narrative film technique. American film scholar Ken Dancyger writes, "[The film 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 American Edwin S. Porter that editing became more purposeful." Porter was inspired partially "by the length and quality of Méliès's work".[page needed]
Although most of the editing in A Trip to the Moon is purely functional, there is one unusual choice: when the astronomers land on the lunar surface, the "same event is shown twice, and very differently".[page needed] The first time it is shown crashing into the eye of the Man in the Moon; the second time it is shown landing on the Moon's flat terrain. The concept of showing an action twice in different ways was experimented with again by Porter in his film Life of an American Fireman, released roughly a year after A Trip to the Moon.
Some[who?] have claimed that the film was one of the earliest examples of pataphysical film, while stating that the film aims to "show the illogicality of logical thinking". Others still have remarked that the director, Georges Méliès, aimed in the film to "invert the hierarchal values of modern French society and hold them up to ridicule in a riot of the carnivalesque". This is seen as an inherent part of the film's plot: the story pokes fun at the scientists and at science in general, in that upon traveling to the Moon, the astronomers find that the face of the Moon is, in fact, the face of a man, and that it is populated by little green men.[page needed]
In popular culture
- Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, whose story revolves around Méliès, features a description of the "man in the Moon" scene. Martin Scorsese's film adaptation Hugo prominently features this scene and includes other scenes from the movie.
- The HBO miniseries From The Earth To The Moon featured a documentary-style recreation of the filming process during its last episode, titled "Le Voyage Dans Le Lune" in honor of Méliès's work.
- The music video for rock band Queen's song "Heaven for Everyone" features clips from the original 1902 short film.
- The film served as the basis for The Smashing Pumpkins' award-winning music video for their song "Tonight, Tonight".
- Le Voyage Dans La Lune is a 2012 album by French band Air, featuring vocals by Victoria Legrand and Au Revoir Simone. The album is based on and expanded from the soundtrack Air provided for the hand-tinted restoration of the film.
- The trophies given out by Visual Effects Society at their yearly awards ceremony feature the famous shot of the Moon with the rocket in its eye.
- The television series Futurama features an episode titled "The Series Has Landed", in which the Lunar Park mascot Crater Face resembles Méliès's "Man in the Moon". Bender embeds his beer bottle in Crater Face's eye after Crater Face attempts to confiscate his alcohol. In a later episode titled "Meanwhile", Crater Face gets another beer bottle embedded in his eye.
- The 1956 movie adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days begins with an introduction from Edward R. Murrow that includes a clip of the Méliès film.
- A Trip to the Moon, the common English-language title, was first used in Méliès's American catalogues. It was initially labeled in British catalogues as Trip to the Moon, without the initial article.
- Wemaere & Duval 2011, p. 186
- Hammond 1974, p. 141
- Frame rate calculations produced using the following formula: 845 feet / ((n frame/s * 60 seconds) / 16 frames per foot) = x. See Elkins 2013.
- Malthête & Mannoni 2008, p. 344
- Lefebvre 2011, pp. 51–60
- Frazer 1979, pp. 95–98
- Solomon 2012, p. 191
- Solomon 2011, p. 2
- Solomon 2011, p. 1
- Village Voice Critics' Poll 2001, 84
- Frazer 1979, pp. 95
- Dirks, Tim. "A Trip to The Moon". FilmSite.org. Archived from the original on 17 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- Kessler 2011, p. 123
- Frazer 1979, p. 98
- Malthête & Mannoni 2011, p. 125
- Méliès 2011, p. 234: "I remember that in "Trip to the Moon," the Moon (the woman in a crescent,) was Bleuette Bernon, music hall singer, the Stars were ballet girls, from theâtre du Châtelet—and the men (principal ones) Victor André, of Cluny thêatre, Delpierre, Farjaux—Kelm—Brunnet, music-hall singers, and myself—the Sélenites were acrobats from Folies Bergère."
- Lefebvre 2011, p. 50
- Lefebvre 2011, pp. 58
- Lefebvre 2011, pp. 51–58
- Frazer 1979, p. 99
- Frazer 1979, p. 96
- Frazer 1979, p. 91
- Yumibe 2012, pp. 71–73
- "Tombs of Kobol - Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon)". Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Interview of Martin Scorsese by Jon Stewart, 17 November 2011, The Daily Show
- Wemaere & Duval 2011, p. 162
- Frazer 1979, p. 191
- "A Trip to the Moon - a return journey". Cannes. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- "Georges Méliès' A Trip to The Moon In Color". Flicker Alley. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- Scott & Dargis 2011, p. AR8
- Dancyger, Ken (2002). The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice. New York: Focal Press, 2002.
- Sklar, Robert (c. 1990). Film: An International History of the Medium. Thames and Hudson.
- McMahan, Alison (2005). The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1566-0.
- "A Trip to the Moon (1902) - Did You Know? - Connections". IMDB. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- "From the Earth to the Moon (1998) - Did You Know? - Connections". IMDB. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- Queen Promo Videos: Heaven For Everyone Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 14 November 2011
- Bloomer, Jeffry (2012-02-09). "Restored “A Trip to the Moon” With New Air Soundtrack Opens Friday". filmlinc.com. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- "Travel and Transport in Early Cinema". Spectacular Attractions - blog. 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- Elkins, David E. (2013), "Tables & Formulas: Feet Per Minute for 35mm, 4-perf Format", The Camera Assistant Manual Web Site (companion site for The Camera Assistant's Manual [Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2013]), retrieved 8 August 2013
- Frazer, John (1979), Artificially Arranged Scenes: The Films of Georges Méliès, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., ISBN 0816183686
- Hammond, Paul (1974), Marvellous Méliès, London: Gordon Fraser, p. 141, ISBN 0900406380
- Kessler, Frank (2011), "A Trip to the Moon as Féerie", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 115–128, ISBN 9781438435817
- Lefebvre, Thierry (2011), "A Trip to the Moon: A Composite Film", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 49–64, ISBN 9781438435817
- Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, ISBN 9782732437323
- Méliès, Georges (2011) [written 1930], "Reply to Questionary", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 233–234, ISBN 9781438435817
- Solomon, Matthew (2011), "Introduction", in Solomon, Matthew, Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 1–24, ISBN 9781438435817
- Solomon, Matthew (Fall 2012), "Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913)/Georges Méliès Encore: New Discoveries (1896-1911)", Moving Image 12 (2): 187–192, ISSN 1532-3978, JSTOR 10.5749/movingimage.12.2.0187
- Scott, A. O.; Dargis, Manohla (14 December 2011), "Old-Fashioned Glories in a Netflix Age", The New York Times: AR8, retrieved 2 August 2013
- Village Voice Critics' Poll (2001), "100 Best Films", filmsite.org (AMC), retrieved 2 August 2013
- Wemaere, Séverine; Duval, Gilles (2011), La couleur retrouvée du Voyage dans la Lune, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage, retrieved 10 August 2013
- Yumibe, Joshua (2012), Moving Color: Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, ISBN 9780813552965</ref>
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Le voyage dans la lune (film).|
- Le Voyage dans la lune is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) - English narration is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- A Trip to the Moon at the Internet Movie Database
- A Trip to the Moon at allmovie
- A Trip to the Moon at Rotten Tomatoes
- Filmsquish — Blog-A-Thon of critics celebrating the film
- Was the NASA splash down inspired by Georges Méliès? — A letter to NASA