Monday, July 20, 2009

A Voyage to the Moon

TCM is spending all day and night today celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Among the interesting movies showing up is the groundbreaking A Voyage to the Moon, at 8:00 PM ET

The movie is short, running about 12 minutes, but it was made back in 1902, at a time when a movie that length would be considered a feature film. It tells the story of a group of French scientists who decide to go to the moon in a rocket ship, and what happens to them when they get to the moon. Although films of this time were silent, the movie has spoken narration, which at the time would have been given by director Georges Méliès

The effects are primitive by today's standards, of course, especially the iconic shot of the rocket ship landing in the eye of the "man in the moon", which you've probably seen since it shows up in so many documentaries on early filmmaking. However, you have to remember that this was made a year before America's groundbreaking movie, The Great Train Robbery. Méliès, was a magician and stage-show producer by trade, but when movies came along, he realized that there was a new, enormous power to manipulate reality and perception. The result was dozens and dozens of movies, of which A Voyage to the Moon is probably the best known.

A Voyage to the Moon has made its way to DVD, where it can be found on compilations of early film. (Never mind the fact that it's in the public domain.) But, in the 21st century, it's also made its way to YouTube.

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