Film Review: A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Also known as: Le Voyage dans la Lune (France)
Release Date: September 1st, 1902 (France)
Directed by: Georges Méliès
Written by: Georges Méliès
Based on: From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by Jules Verne
Cast: Georges Méliès, Bleuette Bernon, Francois Lallement, Henri Delannoy

Star Film Company, 18 Minutes (12 frames/s), 16 Minutes (14 frames/s), 9 Minutes (24 frames/s)

Review:

A Trip to the Moon is a pretty iconic motion picture and its historical significance and influence is massive.

While the film is scant in running time by modern standards, it was really the first sci-fi epic to reach mainstream audiences. It was a special effects extravaganza for its time and really, paved the way for imaginative filmmakers after its release.

The film was a French production directed by Georges Méliès, who was also an illusionist when not behind the camera. Méliès also directed The Impossible Voyage in 1904, which is very similar in style, tone and story to this film.

A Trip to the Moon took inspiration from many sources but it really created a vibe similar to the works of Jules Verne, most notably From Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.

The plot of the film is pretty simple and straightforward. A group of astronomers travel to the moon via a capsule that is shot from a cannon. They explore the moon’s surface, meet some aggressive lunar aliens and then capture one and bring it to Earth.

The cast is comprised of Méliès and several French theatrical performers. It is filmed in a theatrical stage show style, which was common in the earliest days of film production.

What makes A Trip to the Moon so significant, is that before this, films were usually more like creative home movies. Someone would try out an effect or tell a quick little humorous story. This film offered innovative special effects and had a good narrative, which made it immensely popular and changed the film industry going forward. It showed audiences and budding filmmakers what a motion picture was capable of.

For awhile, filmmakers kept to making shorts but as creativity blossomed and artists learned that they could do so much more, the industry started to make long serial films. Within a decade of A Trip to the Moon‘s release, films went from shorts to lengthy episodic epics, almost like modern television shows.

Without A Trip to the Moon, the film industry could have evolved into something else entirely. It probably would have eventually become what it is but something had to be the spark and A Trip to the Moon was a rather big spark. In fact, it may have truly been the Big Bang of the motion picture industry.

While its style is incredibly dated, it is still mesmerizing and magical, especially when viewed on a big screen.

It has stood the test of time better than all the other films of its era and it is still beloved and respected.

Rating: 10/10