With 1001 movies to choose from it’s quite a tough decision to choose exactly where to kick off… do I choose a recent film and go from there? Maybe one of my favourite films? Start with the most recent film and work backwards or vice versa? Given that this is my first post I decided to go with the first full entry in the book (there’s an alphabetical checklist in the front but that’s just boring) and seeing as the book itself is in chronological order this is the oldest film in the book.
As a film over 100 years old I thought this would be a difficult film to track down but, to my surprise, a quick Google search resulted in a handful of posts with the movie posted in full on YouTube. When it was originally filmed in 1902 the film ran for 14 minutes which was an epic by the standards of the era with most silent movies only being 2 minutes in length. The YouTube video runs for approximately 10 minutes as it is shown at 24fps instead of the 16fps that the film was originally shot in.
Based loosely on the books From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells the film tells the story of a group of scientists who decide to travel to the moon using a giant cannon to propel their craft across space. Once there the scientists begin to explore and are confronted by a hostile alien race called The Selenites who capture them and take them to their king. The scientists discover that The Selenites explode in a cloud of smoke when hit with an umbrella and make their escape back to their craft and eventually back to earth to a heroes welcome.
A Trip to the Moon is a landmark film as it is the first Sci-Fi film ever recorded and marked the invention of many film techniques that would become widely used later on including superimposition’s and dissolves. The film was written and directed by Georges Méliès for a budget of 10,000 Francs which was a massive risk on his part but was ultimately worthwhile due to it’s popularity. Unfortunately the film was so popular it was illegally copied and distributed under other names (most notably by Thomas Edison and his associates) which ultimately led to Méliès going bankrupt.
The legacy of Méliès greatest film can still be seen today with the video for The Smashing Pumpkins single Tonight, Tonight paying homage to the film (the central characters escape the Selenites on the space craft from the film and are picked up by a steam transporter called the SS Méliès at the end) and even The Mighty Boosh drawing on it for their image of the Moon in the cult TV show.