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A Trip to Mars (1910)
*** (out of 4)
This is a fairly interesting picture from Edison about a scientist who discovers a powder that can defy gravity. At first he uses this to move a few objects in his room but then he decides to take a trip to Mars where he encounters some giant tree people and some sort of monster. I'll admit that I'm not quite certain what the monster did to the scientist but it looks like a very early version of a crack pipe. A TRIP TO MARS isn't a masterpiece like A TRIP TO THE MOON but I think fans of the bizarre should enjoy it. The best moments happen when the scientist lands on Mars and we see the giant tree-looking creatures, which were quite cleverly done and look very good. This is when the film turns really strange as this demon thing takes the scientist and smokes something. Again, I'm not sure what he was doing exactly but it was quite effective. This film was made around the same time as Edison's FRANKENSTEIN and the set here looks very similar to the one used in that film so I do wonder if they're the same.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short special-effects movie from Edison mimics the kind of movies Melies was making at a time when cinema was moving away from attractions and towards the kind of more realistic narrative film being made by D. W. Griffith. This could explain why both Melies and Edison were finished in the movie business within the next few years. In this one, we see a scientist developing a powder which reverses gravity. After testing the powder on some household objects, he dusts himself and sets off on a trip to Mars. To be fair, some of the effects when he is on the red planet are quite impressive, although exactly what one gigantic inhabitant does to our hero is a bit unclear. He seems to turn him into a snowball which he then proceeds to melt. Worth a look, but this type of film would be more or less obsolete within a couple of years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An interesting piece of movie which is based entirely on H. G. Wells
book. Melies "A Trip to the Moon" is based mostly on J. Verne's book
"From The Earth to the Moon" and has elements from Wells book "The
First Men in the Moon" (Wells mentions that the moon is inhabited by
Selenites and about huge plants and also in Verne's book they never get
to step on the moon).
In this movie, like in Wells book, the scientist discovers a substance which defies gravity (in the book it's a new material called cavorite) which helps him travel up in the air and straight to Mars! There he finds strange creatures and an environment different from Earth. He manages to get back to his house and in a strange twist he spills the substance on the floor.
It is not as good as Melie's movie but is fun small piece of history. If you like the short "magic films" of this era than is a must. You have to love the way they brought fantasy into life and the way they used the means they had at the time to make this possible.
The obvious inspiration for this short film is Georges Melies' 1903 A
TRIP TO THE MOON, but while Melies based his movie on a Jules Verne
novel, this clearly is based on H.G. Wells' FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
-- with the names rubbed off and the site of the action changed to
Even though we see the same sort of mix of stage and movie magic that Melies used, the purpose has shifted subtly from being special effects that the audience would gape at, to special effects that are used to get from plot point A to plot point B. When chairs float in the air, it is not to frighten and bewilder the audience and the movie's character, but to illustrate the invention of anti-gravity. When the scientist flails about while seeming to fly through outer space, it is to get to Mars. Special effects are no longer the point of the movie. They are part of the grammar.
To the modern eye it may look abrupt, but Edison had its own style of editing that it would use until 1913. There were few screen titles used at Edison.
Director Ashley Miller seems to have used Edison as a source of income and after they stopped production, gave up the movies. He seems to have had a real career acting and directing on Broadway.
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