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A Trip to the Moon (1902)

A Trip to the Moon

Release date: September 1, 1902
Directed by: Georges Méliès
Stars: Georges Méliès, Bleuette Bernon, François Lallement, Henri Delannoy
Running time: 9 minutes (24 frame/s)
Country: France
Language: Silent


«A Trip to the Moon» or «Le voyage dans la Lune» is an iconic cinema that is usually considered as the first token sci-fi film. The plot is very simple, at the meeting of the astronomic club the president proposes a trip to the moon, after some discussion he and five other astronomes decide to go to there. So they build a capsule in the shape of a bullet and a huge canon to shoot it into the space. Astronomes sit in the capsule and then they are launched to the Moon. The man in the Moon watches the capsule approaching and then it hits him in the eye.

Landing on the Moon, the astronomers get out of the capsule. They are amazed by everything on the Moon, so they see a lot of interesting and almost magical things there. But then they meet inhabitants, who are really dangerous, so they start to fight with them and it becomes increasingly difficult for the astronomers to destroy them as they are surrounded. They capture six astronomers and take them to the palace of their king. But the astronomers manage to get out.

They run back to the capsule, so they use a rope to tip the capsule over a ledge and fall into the space. It lands in an ocean on Earth, where they are rescued by a ship and towed ashore. The story ends with a celebratory parade in honor of the travelers

Exposition of the plot is the scenes on the Earth in the astronomic club where we meet all of the astronomes, we are introduced to the plan of going to the Moon, we can see the process of building the capsule and the launching to the Moon, it ends with The face of the Moon that was hit in the eye.

Than we see rising action, where astronomes land to the Moon and they start exploring. They overnight there and then the travelers go down into the gorge where they see local nature.

The climax happens when the astronomes start to fight with inhabitants, who are called Selenites. The travelers are surrounded and took to the king, but they manage to run away. It ends with falling into an ocean.

Denouement is the scene of parade in honor of the travelers who came back from the Moon.

The film is an example of narrative at work in cinema. It shows us the planning, execution and return journey of the astronomes. It was a progressive structure of a linear story in cinematography. There are some effects in this film that are specific only to the film genre, that was important because it showed that this type of art differed from literature, music and especially theatre. Those sort of effects could not be duplicated in the real world. Also it illuminated one of the aspects of film – its ability to create immediate and sensational spectacle.

George Méliès is also noted for building the first studio specifically created for filming. The concept of filming in a studio was innovative thing. «A trip to the Moon» made a specific story line, setting it apart from the previous ventures in films.

To summarize all of the above I can claim that this film employed many elements of the science fiction genre such as adventurous scientist, space voyage, special effects, aliens, etc. Also it showed that cinematography differs from other types of art, because it has its own features which can not be repeated somewhere else. Moreover it was the first film that was shot in studio, nowadays we understand that it was obviously the progressive thing in film production.