Reviews | Written by Nigel Watson 29/09/2020

GEORGES MÉLIÈS’ A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902)

CERT: U / FORMAT: BLU-RAY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Georges Méliès was one of the first to appreciate the creative potential of cinema and he applied all his skills as a stage magician to this new and exciting medium. A Trip to the Moon was his most ambitious project and on its release in 1902 it must have had the same mind boggling effect on the audience as a blockbuster like Tenet has on us today.

Inspired by the scientific romances of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the film shows a series of tableaus of the launch of the lunar capsule from a huge cannon, the capsule literally landing in the face of the Moon and the violent encounter with acrobatic, humanoid Selenites.

This release provides the original black and white and hand-tinted colour versions of the film, and you can select a commentary by Serge Bromberg and three different scores (by Bromberg, Jeff Mills, or Dorian Pimpernel) to accompany the film. Other extras include Le grand Méliès, a melancholy documentary by Georges Franju on the rise and fall of Méliès’ career. Another gem is The Extraordinary Voyage, a 2011 documentary by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange that highlights the importance of this film and the long, slow work needed to restore it to its original glory. Plus there is a video essay by Jon Spira that explores the many innovations Méliès brought to his productions.

What we learn is that Méliès was the master of virtually every aspect of his films. He wrote the scripts, designed the sets and costumes, invented equipment and techniques to shoot special effects - such as using double exposure, superimpositions, slow motion, and stop-motion - and he could screen the results in his own Théâtre Robert-Houdin in Paris.

In this manner, he created highly theatrical, surreal, fantasy worlds that took 19th Century stage magic and reinvented it for 20th Century cinema.

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