Nov 13 2009

Article II – In Which I Punch Out the Moon

Alright guys: you ready for some SCIENCE?!  Well, here it is, the first of the first – my first real article on this website that isn’t just me spouting off about some nonsense in British.  A quick disclaimer though: there are no dinosaurs in this week’s article.  Not all science fiction is about dinosaurs, guys.

Everyone who’s anyone knows that the pioneer of Science Fiction film was Georges Méliès.  So this week I shall be reviewing A Trip to the Moon.  For all you who were in film classes and were shown this film – KEEP READING.  THERE ARE NO FREE PASSES HERE.

So the first thing you will notice about this film is – it is silent.  Usually this means the film is going to be long and boring and probably racist.  So I chose to give this one my own soundtrack.  You can pick whatever you like, but I’m fond of Styx – Come Sail Away.  If you play it at just the right moment you can almost…no, you can’t.  It doesn’t synch up.  Anyways, this short film was made in 1902 so it predates Star Wars by seventy years, for those of you who are counting.  It is by no means boring and only racist to the savages who might happen to live on the moon.

For those of you who are wondering, however, it doesn’t make such a great date movie, being only 14 minutes long.  Or does that make it the perfect date movie?  YOU be the judge.

The first couple minutes of the film revolve around what seem to be a group of scientists dressed as wizards arguing about whether they should indeed make a trip to the moon.  After some heated debate, the logical choice is made and a few of the men climb into a giant bullet which is fired out of a giant cannon straight at the moon.  It hits the Man in the Moon right in his giant face.  This is the first instance in cinema history of mankind’s secret desire to blow up the moon.  We also get the most famous picture from the film:

Take this how you want to.

Take this how you want to.

When they are on the moon, our intrepid explorers find that they are not alone, and some crazy moon dwellers attack/annoy the astronauts.  They are quickly dispatched with some snazzy special effects, then they move on to dethrone the moon people King, throwing their civilization into chaos and anarchy.  As can be expected, the moon people chase the explorers back to their bullet spaceship and make their daring escape by falling off the moon and landing in the ocean.

Thus ends the part of the review where I tell you what was in the movie – only lazy people need to have read it because anyone else can go look up the film on YouTube for themselves and make their own judgments.

This film sets a lot of precedents for pretty much every other science fiction piece to come thereafter.  Elaborate sets, strange creatures, dazzling special effects, this film has everything that would have made 1902 movie goers complain about how fake the effects look and how no one could ever travel to the moon (we were a lot stupider back then.)

In all seriousness, this short film is directly responsible for the entire Science Fiction film genre.  It starts with a question: What if some people were to travel to the moon?  From here it moves on to explore the idea in a serious(?) manner, presenting moviegoers with a surreal experience while also being incredibly entertaining.

As the beginning of a genre, this short is really quite an achievement.  A lot of the techniques used to create the landscapes such as perspective paintings turning into real objects that the actors can interact with and jump cuts to make people disappear into puffs of smoke are still used to today by film students with no money.  And I have to admit, it has a certain charm.  YOU have to admit, because I’m telling you to.

Pictured Here: Georges Méliès; Méliès Mustache

(Top to Bottom): Georges Méliès; Georges Méliès' Mustache

I suppose I should also mention that Georges Méliès was French.  So, you know, don’t let that dissuade you from watching this.

If you wanted to get really into analyzing the film, you could say that the moon explorers’ deconstruction of the native inhabitants’ society is a direct jab at humanity’s need to destroy that which they do not understand.  It might be possible to examine this from a philosophical view that values the pursuit of knowledge as the highest possible ideal, regardless of the cost.  If you wanted to compare this to the Native Americans and all the Spanish, British, and French explorers, you probably could.

Me?  I wouldn’t.  Intelligent analysis isn’t really my style. down detector .

5 Responses to “Article II – In Which I Punch Out the Moon”

  • Rosser Garrison Says:

    Yes, but do you LIKE it?

    Nice job, Fil. I have not seen this 15 min flick yet but will. Everybody knows of it. I like the much later “First Men on the Moon” (H.G. Wells) done in 1964 with the wizardry of Ray Harryhausen. A pretty good one all in all.

  • Anna Garrison Says:

    Don’t think I noticed the tiny edits you told me about, except for taking out the last sentence. Excellent way to end your first review 🙂 Keep them coming! And I am going to look up this movie to watch in a bit…

  • Tim Says:

    they make 15 min movies that are not porn? hmm? I learn something knew everyday.

  • Tim Says:

    I just wish one of those was spelling; knew = new

  • Mitzi Says:

    haha! That moon reminds me of the moon in The Mighty Boosh. “Ahh… when you are da moon… bullets come… at your eye!”

    And 14 minutes is perfect for a date movie. Well, for a bad date at least. Makes for a quick escape.

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