Thursday, 25 September 2014

Le Voyage dans La Lune - Film Review

Fig. 1. Le Voyage dans La Lune poster.

George Melies’s Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902) is a creative and imaginative take on science fiction. Although Le Voyage dans La Lune is completely in black and white, you still get a sense of the magical world that Melies wanted to create. It appears that the adventurers that travel to the moon are perceived as wizards, as if the science behind it would be too magical to perform. This idea is clearly seen through the first few minutes of the film, as they all gather around in a room dressed in robes and pointed hats, discussing the adventure they are about to embark on (see fig. 2). As Sean Axmaker points out, “Historical importance aside, A Trip to the Moon is a delight, a work of pure, playful imagination, a picture-book fantasy brought to life with intricate, hand-painted sets and a whimsical portrait of science as wizardry by way of the industrial revolution, and the then-revolutionary film effects perfected in his “trick films” are here incorporated into the storytelling.” (Axmaker, 2012).
Fig. 2. Wizard still
What seems to stand out is the environment on the moon, Melies created a sci-fi fantasy environment that has aged well. The cave filled with giant mushrooms is a brilliant fantasy scene that engages the viewer, it’s the first time you’re revealed the creatures that live on the moon and with a swift hit and a puff of smoke you get drawn in to this world that is far from the ordinary (see fig. 3). “It’s astonishing how many delightful details are squeezed into this miniature film, from the alien costumes (bony and spindly, they resemble skeletal bugs more than anything else) to the fact that the astronomers who embark on this space voyage feel the need to take umbrellas.” (Larsen, 2013).  

Fig. 3. Mushroom cave

Melies was the inventor of special effects, and he employs them liberally in this charming yarn, presented in this set not only in its color incarnation but also in the more familiar black-and-white rendition.” (Brunson, 2012). In agreement with this point it seems that Le Voyage dans Le Lune was the pioneering film for special effects, in one way or another we have this film to thank for the CG masterpieces that are flooding our cinematic experiences today.

Illustration list
Melies, G. (1902). Figure 1. Le Voyage dans La Lune poster. (Accessed on 25/09/2014)
Melies, G. (1902). Figure 2. Wizards still. (Accessed on 25/09/2014)
Melies, G. (1902). Figure 3. Mushroom cave still. (Accessed on 25/09/2014)

Axmaker, S. (2012). (Accessed on 25/09/2014)
Larsen, J. (2013). (Accessed on 25/09/2014)


  1. Hi Charlie!

    Once again, a well-written review...

    Just one point - you seem to have forgotten to turn the italics off after your first quote! :)

  2. Hey Charlie - see link!

    Also - re. your blog, I'm wondering if you could look again at the colours you're using for your hyperlinks etc, as that vivid blue against the dark background is actually a bit off-putting somehow - it's hard to read and a bit woozy on the eye (it might be my age!) :)