Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cinematic Spaces Film Review: Le Voyage dans la Lune 1902

Le Voyage dans la Lune is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. It follows a group of astronomers who travel to the moon in a cannon-propelled spaceship, explore the moon's surface, escape from an underground group of Selenites (lunar inhabitants), and return in a splashdown to Earth with a captive Selenite in tow.

Fig 1

Le Voyage dans la Lune was the first science fiction story, running only for 14 minutes but considered as an epic at the time. The plot was inspired by Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon (1865)"  and H.G.Wells' "First Men in the Moon (1901)" and was a light-hearted satire that criticized the conservative scientific community of its time.

Fig 2

The theatrical backdrops that were used for the film Le Voyage dans la Lune gave it a very pleasing picture-book feeling overall. Sean Axmaker writes; "...a work of pure, playful imagination...brought to life with intricate, hand-painted sets..."(1) It was bizarre, yet interesting to see what the minds back in the early 1900s thought was on the moon. When the shuttle first lands we are presented with a scene which includes a crater-filled ground and also spiky rocks which are of course their imagination to fill the space seeing as they've never stepped foot on the moon at the time.

Fig 3

To further this point, from Fig 2, we can see the underground cave filled with mushrooms which also a very imaginative idea at the time. It again was interesting to see that they believe something on their own planet would also be on the moon – again due to the lack of knowledge they had at the time and therefore needed to create something that would stick with the audience, so therefore ended up using something recognizable like the overgrown mushrooms.

An important point to note as well, as written by Jeffrey M. Anderson, is that;  "...Méliès saw his frame as two-dimensional, like a painting."(2)  This again supports the collective view that Les Voyage dans la Lune was very storybook-like. Instead of utilising the full depth of each frame, Méliès concentrated the movements from left-to-right and vice versa. 

Fig 4

Méliès not only had beautiful sets created, but also skillfully included special effects that brought out the scenes even more. From the alien's being vanquished to smoke to the industrial chimneys back on earth (Fig 4) - which were painted and Méliès was able to make them puff out real smoke.  The results of all these special-effects, which Josh Larson from Laser on Film ties up nicely as; "...evocative of the movie's era. Just as the journey of the title has a sense of playful discover, the film's first viewers must have felt the thrill of something new. "(3)

Review Bibliography

Sean Axmaker (1): http://www.seanax.com/2012/04/11/cinema-landmark-a-trip-to-the-moon-restored/
Jeffrey M. Anderson (2): http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/trip_to_the_moon.shtml
Josh Larson (3): http://www.larsenonfilm.com/a-trip-to-the-moon


  1. Hi Gemma,
    Some interesting observations here :)

    My main comment to you would be to double-check your referencing conventions - you can check out a very thorough referencing guide in myUCA, in the myLibrary section. This link might work -


    Basically, after the quote you need to have the author's surname followed by the date in brackets, so for example (Hagan, 2013). If the quote comes from a book, you have the page number too (Hagan, 2013:34). The bibliography is arranged alphabetically by the author's surname, followed by their initial. There are various other components that you need, with certain formats such as italics etc.... check out the referencing guide for full details!

    1. Hi Jackie, thank you for pointing this out. I'll be sure to reference it and recheck my other two before I post them up (:

  2. also - that's really teeny tiny writing - very off-putting for the casual visitor - think about your font size - make your blog an accessible, effortless experience.