Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) DVD Review

I can say without a doubt that A Trip to the Moon is one of the most intriguing films I’ve ever seen. Clocking in at about 16 minutes, Georges Méliès’ seminal work bristles with imagination and invention. It’s weird to see common film techniques pioneered this early on. Matte paintings, jump cut effects and the like are all here, a few years after the medium was invented. These types of effects were very common until about 15 years ago when CGI started hogging the spotlight. The film’s most iconic image of the Man in the Moon getting a rocket stuck in his eye is still as striking today as it ever was, with the influence of that one image alone being felt in everything from Futurama to The Mighty Boosh.

So, what can I say about it? Well, the plot is easy enough to grasp hold of. Some astronomers want to go to the Moon. They built a rocket that looks like a bullet and shoot themselves out of a massive cannon. They land on the Moon and soon discover it’s filled with aliens known as Selenites. After they defeat them, the astronomers and a captured Selenite journey back to Earth and are met with a heroes’ welcome. The end. It’s all very charming. The creativity is the thing that struck me the most about it. I can’t imagine what audiences back in 1902 thought of it, I bet it blew their minds clean across the room. Some of the tricks implemented here (such as an umbrella turning into a huge mushroom that grows) must have left them scratching their heads. Kinda throws how spoiled we are in terms of presentation and effects in this day and age into sharp focus. There’s a bit after the astronomers are captured and led to the Selenite leader. One of the astronomers picks him up and dashes him on the floor where he explodes into a cloud of smoke. I let out a little chuckle and realised I was laughing at a 110 year old joke. That’s pretty special.

The version sent to me was the recently restored colourised version of the film, complete with the previously lost ending and a new soundtrack by French band Air. The colourisation can be distracting at times, but it’s nice enough. It’s cool to know the intentions for costume colours and things. Without colourisation, I wouldn’t have known that the moon bleeds red blood after getting shot with the rocket. Not being an expert on the film, I’m not sure if the film was accompanied by live piano music when it was projected and if so, I would have preferred that but the Air score is decent enough.

A Trip to the Moon is one of those films that managed to capture just what was possible with the new and exciting world of cinema at just the right time. You can easily see how it inflamed the imagination and inspired audiences for generations. On top of all that, it’s arguably the first science-fiction film, so think about that when you sit down to watch your precious Blade Runner or whatever. It’s really difficult to talk about the film without sounding like some kind of pipe-puffing loser professor, but it’s one of the most important films in cinematic history. It’s good to remember your roots.

Ben Browne

★★★★★

Rating: U
DVD Release Date: 26th November
Directed By Georges Méliès
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