Monday, 1 October 2012

Cinematic Spaces: Le Voyage dans la Lune - Review

"The cinema is an invention without a future."
-- Louis Lumiere

George Méliés the creator of "Le Voyage dans la Lune" (1902) produced the first science-fiction movie in the history of cinema. Back in XX. century when Lumieré brothers started the era of cinematics with their "La Sortie des usines Lumière" (1895), Méliése's movies presented completely new approach to the cinematic topics, reaching higher steppingstone on the field of plot and post-production. He was called "the magician of his ages" creating special effects that tricked people's eyes by making characters disappear on the screen.
"Le Voyage dans la Lune"(1902) starts in a crowded grand hall with people trying to decide who has got the rights to visit the Moon, later followed by spacetravel and confrontation with agressive Martians. The whole production lasts no longer than 14 minutes (16 fps), though it is enough time to state that Méliés opened the way for next generation of directors fascinated with spacetravels and discovering the Universe.

"Some may say it looks hokey by today's standards, but the intentionally unreal appearance of the sets, costumes, and special effects gives the film an aura of pure fantasy that few modern films come close to approaching. "    
(Bob Ignizio, 2012)

In XIX. century most part of the science-fiction productions rely on CG Arts and computer post-production. The Golden era of characterisation and hand-made costumes has probably came to its end because of the great possibilities CG Arts give. There is nothing that could be further from the truth. Méliése's characters are 'alive' throughout the ages that have passed. Simple, yet convincing.

"Reality is usually the last thing on someone’s mind as they enter a theatre now but one can only imagine the kind of fascination a film like this would have stirred in 1902."                                 
(Will, 2011)

In 1902 little did people know about the universe. Méliés was no scientist himself, being influenced and loosely basing his production on famous books  "From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verne  and     "The First Men in the Moon" by H.G.Well's. Later in XX century many scientific discoveries occured however up to this point Meliese could freely pursue his own vision of the universe and its possible dwellers, with guarantee of audience being delighted.

"With this film, Méliès, the first master of cinematic magic, showed how to dazzle an audience, and he deserves all the recognition of being the first dreamer of the cinema and for engaging our fantasies in a way that demonstrated the far-reaching possibilities of filmmaking."                                   
(Celluloid Paradiso, 2011)

In "Le Voyage dans la Lune" Méliés created an unique vision of the Moon, using only still camera angle, props, daylight and characterization. To create depth of the world, few layers of the vision were created, foreground, middleground and background. This process made it easier to uderstand and feel the differences between humans and martians, the odness of the Moon and it's dwellers. Also, this movie was created in both black-and-white and hand-coloured versions, though hand-colored print is the only one known to survive. It was rediscovered in 1993 by the Filmoteca de Catalunya.

Undeniably, George Méliés created a new path for future science-fiction movies and its directors. He started broadening people's curiousity and imagination by creating the most known production of all times, with the well-known and recognizable image of the spaceship landing in the Moon's eye.

* Bob Ignizio, 2012, online source: [accessed online on 29 September 2012]
* Will, 2011, online source: [accessed online on 29 September 2012]
* Celluloid Paradiso, 2011, online source: [accessed online on 29 September 2012]

2. Stills:
* Still 1:
* Still 2:
* Still 3:

1 comment:

  1. I find this film to be utterly charming and spellbinding - and this review expresses that eloquently; your first 'published' review, Samantha - how exciting! Nicely done.