Thursday, 13 January 2011

Who Needs Scientific Accuracy? It's 1902!

It's so difficult to discuss such an old movie. I mean, it's facinating but how do I rate it? Let's find out.

I'm casually working my way through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Starting at the beginning. With 1902's contribution of A Trip To The Moon, or in it's original French, Le Voyage Dans La Lune. The story of French scientists who work out how to get to the moon. So off they go to the moon. Did I mention the moon is sort of alive with alien creatures living on it? Yeah... That too. It's only 11 minutes, go and watch it on Youtube.

What I loved about this 'movie' is the brilliant optimism. Since the movie is silent, the language is purely visual. I took it upon myself to provide the dialogue for the opening scene:

Scientist 1: "To get to the moon we need to shoot a ship into space"
Scientsit 2: "Yeah but to do that we'd need something like a really big cannon!"
Scientist 1: "A really big cannon? Perfect!"
Scientist 2: "Awesome! Let's change out of these wizard costumes and into our Sunday best for the trip!"
The Iconic Image. You know it don't you?

You'll see. It's wonderfully amusing. On release at the time it was praised for its incredible special effects. Its brilliant camera work. Its scientific basis. Nowdays it just seems like a satire about the French input to the space race. But it is fun. Who needs oxygen in space when we have top hats? I joke but it really is a fun 11 minutes. I'm sure it wasn't intended to be deadly serious in the first place. A hybrid of backdrops, superimposing and stop motion allows for magician/actor/director, George Melies, to create a piece of film that is still captivating today.

Iconic enough to be spoofed in everything from Futurama to The Mighty Boosh, it paved the way for modern film making. Remember, it's 109 years old. It's incredible.

With only 11 minutes of film it's very difficult to write much more but go watch it and then, like me, you can feel all artistic and cool. The film, of course, doesn't live up to today's standards but I'll judge it in context and due to the fact I prefered it to a lot of modern films I give it:
Best bit? Fighting the aliens. Stop motion filming at its very best.

Watch the movie here:

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