Thursday, 1 March 2012

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 8

Country: France
Title: Le Voyage dans la Lune (Trip to the Moon)
Director: Georges Melies
Cast: George Melies, Victor Andre, Bleuette Bernon, Jeanne d'Arcy
Year: 1902
Running time: 14 mins
Genre: Science Fiction
Notable for: Being the first science fiction film and its innovative animation and special effects

With the release of Martin Scorsese's lavish 3D spectacle, Hugo, mainstream cinema audiences, and a new generation of younger film fans, were either reminded of or introduced to the world of silent film director George Méliès. Along with fellow French film-makers the Lumière Brothers, Méliès was a vital figure in the continuing evolution of the then fledgling artform. Méliès' pioneering use of animation and special effects is wonderfully showcased in what is probably his best known film, Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). Credited as being the first science fiction film, Le Voyage dans la Lune, co-written, produced and directed by Méliès, was released, as were many of his other films, in both black and white and colour versions. A shot depicting a spaceship landing in the moon's eye has subsequently become one of the most iconic images in cinema history, and the film itself has been referenced by the likes of Queen, Air, The Smashing Pumpkins and Futurama. There are hundreds of films that could have represented France in this series but Méliès enchanting, enduring Le Voyage dans la Lune deserves its place for both kick-starting a cinematic genre and for pushing the boundaries of the medium into what were then uncharted waters.

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