Le Voyage dans la Lune [ A Trip to the Moon ] (1902)
A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French adventure short film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon and its 1870 sequel Around the Moon, the film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon’s surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return to Earth with a captive Selenite. Its ensemble cast of French theatrical performers is led by Méliès himself as main character Professor Barbenfouillis. The film features the overtly theatrical style for which Méliès became famous. Original air date: September 1, 1902.
Scholars have commented upon the film’s extensive use of pataphysical and anti-imperialist satire, as well as on its wide influence on later film-makers and its artistic significance within the French theatrical féerie tradition. Though the film disappeared into obscurity after Méliès’s retirement from the film industry, it was rediscovered around 1930, when Méliès’s importance to the history of cinema was beginning to be recognised by film devotees. An original hand-colored print was discovered in 1993 and restored in 2011.
A Trip to the Moon was an internationally popular success on its release, and was extensively pirated by other studios, especially in the United States. Its unusual length, lavish production values, innovative special effects, and emphasis on storytelling were markedly influential on other film-makers and ultimately on the development of narrative film as a whole. It was ranked 84th at the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice. The film remains Méliès’ best known, and the moment in which the capsule lands in the Moon’s eye remains one of the most iconic and frequently referenced images in the history of cinema. It is widely regarded as the earliest example of the science fiction film genre and, more generally, as one of the most influential films in cinema history.
Directed, Written, and Produced by
From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon
by Jules Verne
Georges Méliès as Professor Barbenfouillis
François Lallement as the officer of the marines
Henri Delannoy as the captain of the rocket
Jules-Eugène Legris as the parade leader
Victor André, Delpierre, Farjaux, Kelm, and Brunnet as the astronomers
Ballet of the Théâtre du Châtelet as stars and as cannon attendants
Acrobats of the Folies Bergère as Selenites