The First Men in the Moon (2010 film)
|The First Men in the Moon|
|Distributed by||BBC Worldwide|
|Directed by||Damon Thomas|
|Produced by||Julie Clark|
|Written by||Mark Gatiss|
|Music by||Michael Price|
|Editing by||Liana Del Giudice|
|Production company||Can Do Productions|
|Original channel||BBC Four|
|Release date||October 19, 2010|
|Running time||90 minutes|
The First Men in the Moon, also promoted as H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon is a 2010 made for TV drama written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Damon Thomas. It is an adaptation of H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The First Men in the Moon. The film stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford, with Alex Riddell, Peter Forbes, Katherine Jakeways, Lee Ingleby and Julia Deakin. This is the third collaboration between Thomas and Gatiss (after The Worst Journey In The World and Crooked House), and the first film to be produced by their production company Can Do Productions. On adapting the novel Gatiss said "I'm completely delighted to have the chance to bring this wonderful, funny, charming and scary story to BBC Four. It's very rare to be able to adapt a genius like H. G. Wells for the small screen and we hope to do full justice to his extraordinary vision." The First Men on the Moon was first broadcast on 19 October 2010 on BBC Four.
The film's setting begins in July 1969 as 90-year-old Julius Bedford (Rory Kinnear) tells young Jim (Alex Riddell) the story of how two men made the first journey to the Moon back in 1909. He relates that when he was a young man, he met Professor Cavor (Mark Gatiss) at Apuldram and learned that Cavor had invented 'Cavorite', a substance that blocked the force of gravity. He tells how he encouraged Cavor to think toward the profits his invention might bring, and how the two worked together to build a cast iron sphere that would fly them to the moon.
As the Moon has a breathable atmosphere no spacesuits are used. Upon being captured by the Moon's inhabitants (whom Cavor names Selenites) who throw nets over them and knock them out with sticks, both Cavor and Bedford find themselves in a perilous state after Bedford kills some Selenites with his greater strength when they try to force him over a narrow bridge. In an attempt to escape back to Earth, Cavor decides to remain behind to give Bedford time to reach the spacecraft. Bedford almost crashes the spacecraft into the Sun, but escapes and lands close to home at West Wittering. However, his hopes of returning to the Moon to rescue Cavor are dashed when the passer-by Chessocks (Lee Ingleby) accidentally takes off in the craft—Bedford does not know how to produce Cavorite and so cannot produce another craft. Cavor remains in captivity and teaches the Selenites the English language as well as some of mankind's history and the recipe for Cavorite. The Selenites determine that mankind is a threat to the Moon and decide to use Cavorite to make a pre-emptive strike. Communicating his intentions beforehand to Bedford by wireless, in an act of desperation Cavor releases the Cavorite the Selenites are producing and thus evacuates all air from the Moon's surface. This renders it a truly barren world ready to be rediscovered by the Apollo program, though the final shot reveals a Selenite observing the Apollo 11 landing.
The film ends with a tribute to Lionel Jeffries, who played Cavor in the 1964 film and who died in 2010.
- Rory Kinnear as Bedford
- Mark Gatiss as Cavor
- Alex Riddell as Jim
- Peter Forbes as Dad
- Katherine Jakeways as Mum
- Julia Deakin as Mrs Fitt
- Lee Ingleby as Chessocks
- Philip Jackson as Voice of Grand Lunar
- Ian Hallard as Voice of Phi-Oo
- Reece Shearsmith as Moon (non-speaking cameo)
- Steve Pemberton as Sun (non-speaking cameo)
- Gatiss's dog Bunsen as Faraday, Cavor's dog
The First Men in the Moon was first broadcast on 19 October 2010 at 21:00 on BBC Four and was repeated on 20 October 2010 at 00:30 on both BBC Four and BBC HD. It was made available on BBC iPlayer for a period of 7 days until 26 October 2010.
Following the original broadcast BBC Four repeated BBC Two's biographical drama H G Wells: War with the World starring Michael Sheen as H. G. Wells, the author of The First Men in the Moon. The title of the film is a reference to Wells' most famous novel The War of the Worlds.
The show received mildly warm reviews with moderate criticisms of special effects, pacing, and story. The Guardian's Tim Dowling found Gatiss' adaptation to have "brilliant" elements, such as setting the film as the 60-year old "kinematographic" recording and recollections of an old man (Bedford), told in 1969. This "neat framing device" presents the story as "alternative history" which is "remarkably faithful" to H. G. Wells' original story, treating it "playfully, but ... more or less in earnest." He enjoyed the film's "sly" references to modernity, such as airline flight safety announcements, and its "Pooterish approximation of Neil Armstrong's famous words: 'What is this for us, but a tiny footfall...'" Dowling found that once on the moon, "the drama hits a soggy spot", the Selenite inhabitants "are a little unconvincing," and when the duo are separated, "the narrative runs out of steam," but wrote that "it's worth staying on," and summed up the film as an "engaging slice of time travel."
The Independent's reviewer Tom Sutcliffe wrote, "Is there anything deader than science fiction that has been overtaken by science fact? I suppose there might be objections to this rule, but I'm not sure that H G Wells's The First Men in the Moon is one of them, despite the affectionate treatment it was given." While noting the film's "neat framing device" of being set on the same day of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Sutcliffe described the film's special effects as "not a great deal more advanced" than those of Georges Méliès. In sum, he found the film "very nicely done, but uncertain as to why."
The first broadcast was watched by 830,000 people, the third largest multichannel audience of the night.
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