Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902)
In English, the title is simple: "A Voyage to the Moon"; yet it conveys so much about one of the first movies ever made. For Georges Méliès to craft such a unique, adventurous, fun, and thrilling tale about a place that wouldn't be visited for another 67 years after the film was released, is quite an accomplishment.
In short, the plot is thus: a professor convinces a group of students and colleagues that it is possible to visit the moon and soon he assembles a team of men who will do just that. Using a rocket that looks like an oversized bullet, the men are shot from a giant cannon into outer space, towards the moon. The rocket flies right into the face of the man of the moon, square into his left eye—much to his annoyance. Then the explorers come outside and view the wonders of the moon. But the trip has tired them out, and they grab a few blankets and go to sleep.
In the night celestial beings see them sleeping and make it snow which drives the travelers underground (literally).
Under the surface of the moon lies a world that is jungle-like: large mushrooms and flora bloom and thrive. But there are other creatures here: the natural inhabitants of the moon who will fight to keep their territory. It's convenient because when they are killed they vanish in a cloud of smoke.
You would think that the death-by-steam aliens would be easy to vanquish, but there are few men and many of their adversaries. The aliens take the men to their king and one of the voyagers breaks free and overthrows the king. Then, the all have to escape back to their rocket with a brigade of creatures on their tails.
There is silliness to "Le Voyage Dans La Lune", like the simple anti-scientific facts that the men can breathe on the moon, or the plant life, or even the aliens to that end.
But it would seem that this movie is deeper than what first thought. It raises questions about what is exploration and if it is good or not.
Certainly similarities are awoken in my mind of European settlers and the American Indians.
The end scene is haunting in its implications.
Although, this film is quirky and imaginative, it also has guts and determination. I find it hard to believe that the final shot was accidental in the message that it conveys...but if so, what a happy mistake.
"Le Voyage Dans La Lune" is mostly famous for the image of the rocket sticking out of the face of the moon; but it should be for much more than that.
Glorious in every way, this film is powerful and beautiful.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones