In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Sergei M. Eisenstein
A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why... See full summary »
A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... See full summary »
In this spectacular free adaptation of the popular theatre play "La Biche au Bois", the valiant Prince Bel-Azor pursues a baleful old witch to her impregnable castle, to save the beautiful young Princess Azurine.
The clip shows a jockey, Domm, riding a horse, Sally Gardner. The clip is not filmed but instead consists of 24 individual photographs shot in rapid succession, making a moving picture when using a zoopraxiscope.
When A Trip to the Moon was made, film actors performed anonymously and no credits were given; the practice of supplying opening and closing credits in films was a later innovation. Nonetheless, the following cast details can be reconstructed from available evidence:
Georges Méliès as Professor Barbenfouillis. Méliès, a pioneering French film-maker and magician now generally regarded as the first person to recognize the potential of narrative film, had already achieved considerable success with his film versions of Cinderella (1899) and Joan of Arc (1900). His extensive involvement in all of his films as director, producer, writer, designer, technician, publicist, editor, and often actor makes him one of the first cinematic auteurs.nSpeaking about his work late in life, Méliès commented: "The greatest difficulty in realizing my own ideas forced me to sometimes play the leading role in my films ... I was a star without knowing I was one, since the term did not yet exist." All told, Méliès took an acting role in at least 300 of his 520 films.
Bleuette Bernon as Phoebe (the woman on the crescent moon). Méliès discovered Bernon in the 1890s, when she was performing as a singer at the cabaret L'Enfer. She also appeared in his 1899 adaption of Cinderella . François Lallement as the officer of the marines. Lallement was one of the salaried camera operators for the Star Film Company. Henri Delannoy as the captain of the rocket.
Jules-Eugène Legris as the parade leader. Legris was a magician who performed at Méliès's theater of stage illusions, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin in Paris.
Victor André, Delpierre, Farjaux, Kelm, and Brunnet as the astronomers. André worked at the Théâtre de Cluny; the others were singers in French music halls.
Ballet of the Théâtre du Châtelet as stars and as cannon attendants.
Acrobats of the Folies Bergère as Selenites. See more »
The size of the space capsule is inconsistent throughout the entire feature. It is, apparently, big enough to carry multiple people, yet when a Selenite is seen on the back of the capsule following its return to the Earth, he is almost as big as the entire capsule. See more »
As with many silent films, there are multiple versions available. Many versions lack the "parade" sequence at the end of the feature, which was believed to be lost for quite some time. Some versions are in black and white while some are tinted or colorized. Additionally, some versions include narration (which can differ from print to print) while many are completely silent aside from the musical score. See more »
"A Trip to the Moon" is justly the most popular early film. I've seen thousands of early short movies and have commented on the most interesting cases, but this one is more amusing and imaginative than the rest. It's better than Georges Méliès's other surviving pictures because it has a more developed story--without the tableau vivant style becoming as boring as it usually does. Wacky humor and trick shots help, but that's in the rest of his oeuvre, too. Influenced by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, as well as Adolphe Dennery's adaptation of those pieces, the story is about a gang of astronomers, who, launched from a cannon onto the Moon, encounter explosive aliens (or "Selenites", as Méliès called them).
Méliès used the stop-motion (or substitution-splice) effect and arising smoke for explosive characters in many of his films--same with superimpositions, animated miniatures and placing a fish tank in front of the camera. Additionally, his set designs were the best of the day. I easily forget it's all done within a cramped studio. He often used moving props, too, but this is one of the few that I've seen where the prop is pulled towards the camera--creating the famous rocket kissing the moon's eye gag. The following shot is a temporal replay of that action from a different perspective. It works here, but Edwin S. Porter would make the mistake of adopting the technique for "Life of an American Fireman", which was reedited later, leading many to believe it was a landmark in narrative editing. The "30 tableaux", as Méliès called it, is linked by dissolves--a common transition at the time, which Méliès introduced.
Méliès made it known that his goal was to push cinema towards resembling theatre. The benefit was longer films with more developed stories. Given this, it's ironic that Méliès was one of the first filmmakers to achieve effects specific to motion pictures (i.e. incapable of being produced in theatre or other artistic media)... i.e. the trick shots.
Numerous early shorts are blatant imitations of Méliès's work, but they usually weren't as funny or creative. Many studios even duped his films and sold them as their own, which led to Méliès patenting his work in the U.S. and joining the Motion Pictures Patents Company (MPPC). "A Trip to the Moon" represents the height of his career. His work would soon diminish under the hectic schedule of the Nickelodeon age and the monopolization by the MPCC and Pathé, and he would end up burning his own negatives. Watch Jacques Meny's documentary "La Magie Méliès" (1997) for a good telling of his life and films.
(Note: This is one of four films that I've commented on because they're landmarks of early narrative development in film history. The others are "As Seen Through a Telescope", "The Great Train Robbery" and "Rescued by Rover".)
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