Tuesday 21 August 2012

A Trip To The Moon (1902)

The first, chronologically, of the 1001 Movies To See Before You Die that I am going to be making my way through (well, I might stop at 1000 and then see if I gain immortality), A Trip To The Moon, or La Voyage Dans La Lune, is as entertaining and impressive now as it was 110 years ago. Okay, I suppose that audiences who had seen nothing quite like it at the time would have been even more impressed, and may have wondered just what mysterious magic was at work, but this is a short film that anyone can watch at any age in any year and still easily enjoy. The special effects hold up as something a bit special, partly because of the charming and pioneering style but also because they're genuinely very, very good (especially the matte paintings).

The story is loosely based on two popular novels of the time, one by Jules Verne and the other by H. G. Wells, and simply follows a group of astronauts who travel to the moon and find some strangeness there.

Coming from director George Melies, this is a sci-fi film, a surreal adventure and just an all-round cracking yarn. The old style and the content mix to give a dreamlike atmosphere, the technical side of things is very impressive (if you're cynical about how well any film over a century old could hold up then I implore you to watch this and tell me how they did every little trick) and this is the most sprightly 100+ year old character that you may ever see.

Referenced through the years, mainly in a great Smashing Pumpkins video for their song "Tonight, Tonight" and also in the wonderful Hugo, this is one of many classics fully deserving of the title. Watch it, even if you just watch one of the many versions available on YouTube, and love it.



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