Legacy Review

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

So I am thinking of beginning a likely-interminable quest to watch all of the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die, in chronological order.

Wish me luck on the 1910s in paritcular. Yikes.

I watched a hand-colored copy of the first movie on the list, A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune), which I found on YouTube.

This very short, very early film shows cinema in a prototype phase — it feels more like a filmed stage play for most of its duration, but a stage play with elaborate sets and physical effects, including a large rocket ship prop. The moon monsters vanishing into dust is perhaps the most cinematic trick here.

The iconic image of a rocket ship crashed into the man-on-the-moon’s eye is evocative and foreshadows animation. The hand coloring, while degraded, give everything a playful, fantastical look.

Despite its limitations, there’s true artistry in this film, even today. Passion and whimsy fill the frames. It’s delightful to see a very early take on fantasy and science fiction in film, clearly a work of love and inspiration.

Up next is The Great Train Robbery (1903).

April 2021 Update:

My 3-year-old daughter and I watched the first 4 episodes of Crash Course’s film history series, then watched this together. We talked about how the earliest movies had no sound or color. We narrated the story together — she laughed out loud when the moon monsters would disappear after being whacked by an umbrella. It made me love this even more!

Is It Good?

Very Good (6/8)

A few words on "Is It Good?" ratings for early cinema.

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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