The Astronomer's Dream

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The Astronomer's Dream
Méliès, La lune à un mètre (Star Film 160-162, 1898) 01.jpg
A scene from the film
Directed byGeorges Méliès
Based on"Les Farces de la Lune ou les Mésaventures de Nostradamus"
by Georges Méliès
StarringGeorges Méliès
Release date
  • 1898 (1898)

The Astronomer's Dream, or the Man in the Moon (French: La Lune à un mètre) is an 1898 French short silent film by Georges Méliès. Based on one of his stage magic acts, and starring Méliès himself, the film presents a varied assortment of images and imaginings dreamed by the astronomer of the title, focusing on themes of astronomy and especially the Moon.


A surviving print of the film

In an observatory, an astronomer is studying at his desk. Satan appears, then a woman appears and makes Satan vanish. Then she disappears. The astronomer draws a globe on a blackboard. The globe develops a sun-like head and limbs and starts to move on the blackboard. The astronomer looks through a small telescope. The Moon appears in a building as a large face. It has eaten the astronomer's telescope. Men tumble from its mouth. Then the Moon is in the sky. The astronomer, in a different dress, stands on a table, which disappears. He falls.

The Moon becomes a crescent. The mythological goddess Phoebe (i.e. Selene) appears from it. The astronomer chases her, but she eludes him. Then another figure stands in the crescent of the Moon, before reclining into its C shape. The Moon appears as a large face again, and the astronomer jumps into its mouth. A woman and Satan appears. The astronomer appears again. Then, in the observatory, the astronomer is sitting asleep in his chair.


Georges Méliès : Astronomer

Jehanne d'Alcy : Phoebe/Selene


Méliès plays the astronomer in the film, which is based on a stage magic sketch he had presented in 1891 at his Paris magic venue, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin. The stage version, "Les Farces de la Lune ou les Mésaventures de Nostradamus", combined theatrical illusions with shadow puppetry. The film version uses a combination of stage machinery (including the giant puppet Moon face), pyrotechnics, and substitution splices for its illusions.[1] Phoebe, goddess of the moon, was played by Jehanne d'Alcy, whom Méliès would marry some 30 years later.

The Astronomer's Dream was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 160–162 in its catalogues. In the French catalogues, a subtitle divided the film into three scenes: La Lune à un mètre (1—l'observatoire; 2—la Lune; 3—Phœbé).[2] The film was Méliès's his third, after The Haunted Castle (1896) and The Laboratory of Mephistopheles (1897), to be longer than 60 meters.[1]

When the film was imported to the United States by producer Sigmund Lubin in 1899, he retitled it A Trip to the Moon. However, it should not be confused with Méliès's 1902 film A Trip to the Moon.[3]


  1. ^ a b Essai de reconstitution du catalogue français de la Star-Film; suivi d'une analyse catalographique des films de Georges Méliès recensés en France, Bois d'Arcy: Service des archives du film du Centre national de la cinématographie, 1981, pp. 60–61, ISBN 2903053073
  2. ^ Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 339, ISBN 9782732437323
  3. ^ Kinnard, Roy (2000), Horror in Silent Film: A Filmography, 1896-1929, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, p. 11

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