Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) is a 1902 French adventure film directed by former magician, Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne’s novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, the film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon’s surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (Insect-People), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite. It features an ensemble cast of French theatrical performers, led by Méliès himself in the main role of Professor Barbenfouillis.
Méliès was one of early cinema’s true innovators. He used his expertise as an illusionist to influence his film making. He developed many of the camera “tricks” and methods used for generations after him. His vision led to a distinct aesthetic which would run through his hundreds of films. One can a watch a film by the master and instantly know it was he who made it.
A Trip to the Moon (thought lost for many years) was an ambitious project for 1902. Most American movie makers could not even be called movie makers. Many were filming and releasing everyday activites for audiences to “ooh” and “aah” over (The Great Train Robbery wouldn’t be released for another year). Méliès knew the fascination with the technology would not last, and audiences would eventually demand more…and did he ever deliver! The film boasted an expensive budget and expansive run time for the era (a whopping 13 minutes). Audiences in France were stunned by the result, which is often listed as one of the hundred greatest films ever made.
After hundreds of imaginative film spectacles, Méliès retired from filmin 1913 and became a toymaker…