Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902) released by French director Georges Méliès, is widely regarded as the earliest example of the science fiction film genre and, more over, as one of the most influential films in cinema history. A Trip to the Moon is the most famous film produced by Méliès between 1896 and 1912.
It is a short black and white silent film which lasts 14 minutes.
It tells the story of a journey to the Moon by a bullet fired from a large cannon.
The movie opens with a meeting of astronomers studying the way to travel to the Moon. Their leader is Méliès himself as Professor Barbenfouillis, which is the main role. He tries to convince his collegues to take part in a trip to the moon. His plan is approved and he chooses five others to accompany him.
The group of astronomers
They embark in the capsule and they travel to the Moon.
The giant cannon
The Moon watches the capsule as it approaches and hits her on her right eye, almost as if she wanted to convey the idea that the man damages any natural element. That shot is the most famous scene of the movie and it remains a reference image in the history of cinema.
The capsule crashed on the moon's right eye
The six astronomers land on the Moon and get out of the capsule. While they are exploring the Moon's surface, a Selenite (alien inhabitant of the moon) appears but it's killed accidentally. The astronomers find that a strong hit makes Selenites explode in a cloud of smoke. However, more Selenites appear and as they are surrounded, it becomes quite difficult for the astronomers to killed them. The Selenites capture the astronomers and take them to their leader.
The group of astronomers in front to the leader
One astronomer hits the king, who explodes and the six astronomers run back to the capsule pursued by aliens trying to chase them. Five of them get inside the capsule, and the sixth astronomer drops the capsule, which falls through the space and reaches the ocean on Earth. Then they are rescued by a boat that brings them safe and sound ashore. Finally, they are honored in Paris as heroes.
Dropping the capsule into space
The film was a success on it's release and although it was Méliès most important film, he didn't recieved any money for it. He didn't intend to make a science-fiction movie, he just wanted to keep spectators entretained.
Le voyage dans la Lune was a groundbreaking work, very influential on many film-makers. This was in all possibility due to it's special effects and emphasis on storytelling. Film historian Ken Dancyger says of Méliès' film, "The shorts tell a story, but not in the manner to which we are accustomed".
Méliès work may be primitive indeed, but it is certainly awe-inspiring at the very same time.