George Meliès

A Trip to the Moon [Le voyage dans la lune] (1902)

A Trip to the Moon [Le voyage dans la lune] (1902)

(On Cable TV, July 2019) So this is it — Le voyage dans la lune, the progenitor of the science fiction film genre, the original space story, the first film ever mentioned in any retrospective of the SF genre. (Including TCM’s “Out of this World” July 2019 retrospective, right before Metropolis.)  Older than Alberta and Saskatchewan, A Trip to the Moon is an incredibly primitive production by today’s standards: The succession of static long shots recalls nothing more than being centre row at a high school production, with occasional camera tricks reminding us that we’re watching the magic of movies. Proudly inaugurating 120 years of SF movies, the plot is a bad meld of superior literary sources, the science makes no sense and the simplistic story takes over the non-existent characterization. More seriously, though, it is an interesting product of the heroic age of filmmaking as pioneered by director George Meliès, when even editing frames away to show a character transforming into a puff of smoke passed as pioneering. It’s worth noting that A Trip to the Moon is one of the very, very few early-era movies still discussed and watched today—its solid genre credentials still make it interesting as a flight of fancy whereas more naturalistic movies of the time have been forgotten along the way. Best of all, it’s barely 12 minutes long—more than short enough to be squeezed in between just about anything else.