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The First trip to the Moon

In the workshop of Georges Méliès, who had been at the first viewing in Paris, magical things started to happen. Méliès went further than filming the world as we see it. He started altering reality.

While filming short commercial films, Méliès practiced new film tricks. Actually, he was the one to create the first special effect in a film: "by accident", the film roll stuck, and a man on the screen turned into a woman (what a coincidence, ha?). Soon after, he discovered other trick possibilities, like stopping a running camera and slowing the picture down. With the combination of other magic tricks he practised as a magician, he had the means to make the first science-fiction film in the world. A trip to the Moon: Le voyage dans la Lune – an epic tale of courageous astronauts who travel to the Moon.

George_Melies
Photo: Libération.fr (PD)
Another film maker with an impressive moustache: The illusionist Georges Méliès

The film became part of history and is still immensely popular and considered a pioneer piece of cinematography. If you search for the film on youtube, you find both the film and many recent videos of people pointing out how many factual mistakes the director made when conveying what the Moon is like. The moon itself is an old grumpy man who gets the rocket in his eye when Méliès and his posse land.

According to today's view, with our high film standards, Le voyage dans la Lune is viewed as a funny and historic piece of film. But in 1902, it was a new discovery. Now, film could not only fulfil the wish to convey life as we know it; it could also create a new super-world with fascinating screenplays and gorgeous special effects that had never been seen on screen before.

I strongly recommend that you see this film. It only lasts about 14 minutes and has all the ingredients of a modern action film: lots of explosions and pomp, plenty of naked female skin (they knew about that film trick already back then) and manly, handsome scientists with beards. Laughter is assured.

In 1902, when the film was made, it was regarded as neither short nor funny. To the spectators, it was dark and frightening. The scenes were so well made that the spectators began to believe that this was actual science. The Lumière brothers named Georges Méliès the director of a film show. He was the first director who planned and created every scene of the film before he filmed. He even acted the scenes as well. Magician, director, stage designer, and actor. If you check Méliès' profile on IMDB, you will get lost reading his list of appearances: he made over 400 films!

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