This Gaston Velle movie from 1904 was a fairly venturesome piece of film-making for the era. First, its credits include Jules Verne: his second after the Melies TRIP TO THE MOON a couple of years earlier. Second, it uses a dozen cuts, irised lenses -- the balloonists' views through their telescope -- panning shots, combined images and tints. The tints were standard for the era, but everything else had to be achieved with great difficulty. In an era when most movies still lasted a minute with a stationary camera and a single set-up, this was pretty much state of the art.
It wouldn't last. In another half a dozen years the movie grammar that George Smith had begun developing in Great Britain would render this antique junk, with its parts stripped for entirely different purposes in the movie. But for the moment, this was as good as it got.
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