In 1902, the very first science fiction film was made, A Trip To The Moon.
It was made in France, written and directed by Georges Melies with help from his brother Gaston. Being science fiction it is also therefore the first film to ever employ the concept of “special effects.” That’s right, this film not only invented the sci-fi film, but also invented special effects.
It’s short, running about 15 minutes all told and was a huge hit in its day. It inspired countless film makers afterwards. The director however,went bankrupt despite the film’s huge success. One reason for this is that he lost the American market. How?
Remember our last post about the victrola and how the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison? Well, Thomas Edison had his film technicians secretly make copies of Melies’ film and then distributed it all across America where it was a huge hit. Did Edison pay Melies, who actually made the film? No. Not a penny.
What a dick. We’ll into the Edison/Tesla drama some other day, but… man, Edison was truly a genius if ever there was one, but damn that guy was a dick. Anyway, like any great artist, Melies never stopped and he continued to make visionary and influential fantastical films. He is credited not only with beginning the art of science fiction film making, but of the horror movie also, with his 1896 three minute film The Haunted Castle. He even opened an office in New York to see that his films could be distributed without being pirated. All this a hundred years ago. And you think that anything ever changes.
Naturally, with A Trip To The Moon, movie making was in its infancy. The idea of editing hadn’t even been thought of yet. All film makers had to draw on was stage techniques. But Melies was one of the first to look far beyond theater and treat film narrative as a whole new universe. He was the first filmmaker to use multiple exposures, time lapse photography, dissolves and hand painted colour.
A Trip To The Moon used hand painted colour, however all copies were lost until in 1993, when in a barn in Barcelona a copy was found after 70 years. Despite being in a state of almost total decomposition, a 10 year, frame by frame restoration project managed to save it. On May 11, 2011, 109 years after its original release, a newly restored version was aired at the 2011 Cannes Film festival with a soundtrack written especially for it by the band Air.
You like Air, right? I mean, who doesn’t like Air? Is it even possible to not like Air? Okay, maybe you like heavy metal and Air’s not your favorite thing, but you still kinda LIKE them, right?
Anyway, without further ado, i present to you A Trip To The Moon, with music by Air. I really recommend it. It’s 15 minutes and honestly is surprisingly watchable and immensely fun.