Sunday, April 10, 2016
A Trip to the Moon (1902) review
Clocking in at only fifteen minutes, A Trip to the Moon is more of a short masterpiece than a film. However, its significance in time and the sheer creativity of the show earn it just as much, if not more, respect than most films throughout history. The short, silent picture is a masterpiece of its time, delivering just as much fantasy and awe today as it did back in its original days- thanks to the gift of film preservation.
PLOT: An enlightened astronomer plans a casual trip to the moon with some of the townspeople. The astronomer and others build a torpedo-shaped rocket and launch him into space. The rocket touches down (in the man in the moon's eye, no less) and the astronomer is then encountered with some strange aliens. There isn't a lot of substance to the plot, as it is very short and basic. However, what the creators and performers were able to accomplish with props and costumes at that time in history was quite amazing. Film hadn't become as broad and accessible yet, so this was a special show to see in its day. It's still special now, thanks to the miracle of film preservation and the creativity of the entertainers.
ACTING: Though there isn't anything to say about speech in the film, there is a lot to say about the performers. The performers wide-spreading gestures and sporadic movements really brought the film to life. A film doesn't need the medium of speech if conveyed accurately through emotion, which these actors achieved ultimately.
SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: I'm not sure what the original music played aside this film was, or if there even was music, but either choice would have been better than the background music that Netflix provides with the film. The music on the Netflix stream seemed too modernized and dark compared to the overall tone of the film. It almost ruined the film for me, as it distracted from some of the intended emotions of the film. If it had remained preserved accurately, things would have been better.
EFFECTS: The special effects were amazing for their time. Back in this time, the best effects one could achieve would be the result of impressive stage crafting, camera tricks, and good costume design. A Trip to the Moon achieved all of the above, with well-defined costume design and impressive camera tricks. From the iconic shot of the face in the moon to the alien encounters, this film was an effects marvel for its day. The classic effects still bring a very imaginative tone to the film, whether presented in black-and-white or retouched color.
OTHER CONTENT: Though this film is old, silent, and short, that in no way suggest that it's lackluster or insignificant. The guys in the film industry had this preserved for a reason, and that's because it's still an entertaining work of art and one hell-of-a-show to watch. If one just puts his or her mindset into that time, one would realize just how amazing and significant this film is to the industry. Thinking of how the performers put on this show as intricately as they did is the true whimsical fantasy, for this took a lot more hard work than some basic CGI today. Personally, I love the old-time feel this film has, with all of its camera flaws and different ways of achieving fantastic effects. It's 100% authentic. (Still don't agree? Watch Hugo.)
A Trip to the Moon a. k. a. Le Voyage Dans la Lun is classic work of cinematic art, capturing the same wonder and fantasy today for different reasons. The film is well-preserved for the most part, excluding the addition or re-cut of the background music. Some people should leave aspects like that alone. Some things are better in their raw, cinematic state. Either way, this film marks a significant point in film history and still sheds honor upon these well-deceased performers.