Sunday, 8 December 2013

(34) Short Film Sunday #19: Le voyage dans la lune (1902)

Le voyage dans la lune (1902).

On December 8, 1861, in Paris, was born Georges Méliès, a great and important man in the history of moving pictures. By many he is considered "the father of the narrative film", Charlie Chaplin regarded him as "the alchemist of light", D.W. Griffith said "I owe him everything". To add to this, the first film that Riga, Latvia, born director Sergei Eisenstein saw, was a piece made by Méliès in Paris, in 1906.
Between 1896 and 1906 Méliès created Star Film company made around 500 films, from which less than 140 have survived. Méliès was a producer, director, writer, designer, cameraman and actor, he was the first to use dissolves, superimposition, time-lapse photography, art direction and artificial lighting effects. He showed that the camera can lie, Méliès used many optical effects. He was accused of producing kitsch and "genteel pornography", however Méliès main failing was "a paucity of imagination, which prevented him from exploiting fully the cinematic techniques he had devised".
Méliès was inspired by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, during his military service he visited the home of Robert-Houdin, who, although retired, once had been the leading stage magician in France. In 1888 Méliès purchased Robert-Houdin theater, from the great magician's widow. Above Robert-Houdin theater was Antoine Lumière's shop. Méliès realised that with the photograph one can alter the perception of reality, it was "the essence of magic". So, no surprise that on December 28, 1895, at 14 Boulevard des Capucines Méliès attended the first ever professional screening of movies with a projector, organised by none other than the Lumière brothers. Afterwards, Méliès bought a camera, "what followed is one of the outstanding early careers in film".
To celebrate his birthday, turn off the lights, light a candle and enjoy a science fiction adventure made by Méliès, Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902).

And if you want to go even further, watch Hugo (2011), and allow Martin Scorsese take you on an adventure in Paris with Méliès. If you want to grasp even more magic, watch Paul Merton's Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema. Enjoy!

P.S. I must admit I am proud that I was born on December 28, 1988, 93 years later after the first ever film screening took place. Planned trip to France on my 25th birthday, to visit the place where this wonder happened, but Scotland and mountains somehow won.

"History of Film. Second Edition." by David Parkinson.
"The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us" by David Thomson.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Go ahead, write...