Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Le voyage dans la lune
Title: Le voyage dans la lune (1902)
Director: Georges Méliès
Sadly, and I hate to admit this, the first time I heard about this film was through The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, which I read because all of my friends were in children's lit and thought I would enjoy the pictures (ironically, people always give me a hard time about not reading books sans pictures, but I only started reading graphic novels two years ago - recently highlighted for me when I attended a bridal shower with people who last knew me in high school as a reader of classics and wondered what I was doing with comic books). After reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret I watched Le voyage dans la lune (or A Trip to the Moon) and found it endearing.
This movie is quite short (running around fourteen minutes) and you should take the brief time to view it because of its whimsical (a word I find especially fitting for the whole of this film) adventures in sci-fi and its nostalgic presentation of the early nineteen hundreds. However, apparently because it is such a film it lacks character development (or characters even really being present) or even plot development. In fact, it may be a little hard to follow, but the fact that the scenes abruptly (as well as the logic) jump is supported by the film's representations of a fanciful space - seen in the representation of the moon, which is one of the best scenes in the film. The moon is first shown as the man in the moon as one might see it with the naked eye. Then, as the ship moves closer, it is easier to see that he has a real face, quite alive with emotion. Finally, the ship lands in the moon's eye, creating an iconic shot I am sure you are familiar with.
As seen in this photo, the space that the assortment of, what appears to be, scientists (though they often look like wizards) embark to the moon together is fantastic. Endearingly, once they land all of the scientists pile out and immediately set to yawning and lay down - forget seeking to gain one's bearings. The next highlight - apart from the Mucha-esque star, moon, and planet appearance -
is when they venture underground in a cavern of over sized mushrooms and meet the first "moon man."
After attempting to rid themselves of the moon people, the French explorers are captured and taken to the place of the moon people, where one of the scientists picks up the seeming leader of the moon men and throws him down, causing him to explode. From there, it is a scurry to get back home, landing in the ocean where they are lead to safety and celebrate their adventures in a parade. I love the tone and feel of Méliès' because it reminds me of several things I always want to remember like imagination, ingenuity, and whimsy.
Essentially, the great thing about Le voyage dans la lune is that it showed, definitively through its creative and inventive future in motion pictures. However, it lacks a true story and - often with all of its elements it still remains a little too naive. This story reminds me how wonderful silent films can really be. Le voyage dans la lune is in public domain, so you can easily access it on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-76BX59e7Y. Until next time; go enjoy some art!