A Trip to Jupiter
Original title: Le voyage sur Jupiter
Amusing silent flight-of-fancy from Segundo de Chomón
A king, accompanied by his fool, interrupts a bearded scholar's reverie and insists that he be allowed to use the telescope, through which he observes the mugging face of the Man-in-the-Moon. Impressed, the king asks to see more wonders and the old professor brings forth an immense book that, when opened, shows moving images of the planets, apparently connected by a ladder. The two men then adjourn to an outdoor balcony where the king continues to observe the heavens through a hand-held telescope. He again looks at the Man-in-the-Moon (this time a painting with moving eyes) as well as lunar volcanoes, a women sitting on a crescent moon, and the Gods Saturn and Jupitar on their respective planets (similar to the images seen earlier in the magical book). The king then retires only to 'awaken in a dream' and find the base of the ladder seen in the scholar's tome hanging near his bed. He ascends this with some difficulty and encounters the various heavenly denizens that he had seen in the book. He leaps from the ladder towards Jupiter and flies to the planet, arriving in a strange landscape where he is promptly accosted by acrobatic soldiers. Captured, he is taken to Jupiter's throne room, where the god torments him with a fiery thunderbolt before hurling him back to the celestial ladder. As the king descends, Saturn mischievously cuts the ladder with a pair of giant scissors and the king falls, only to awaken in is his bed. The nightmare over, the terrified king turns on the old professor for starting it all. This whimsical early 'voyage extraordinaire' owes a lot to Georges Méliès' films, for example, the Jovian soldiers that the King fights cavort and disappear in a puff of smoke when struck, exactly as did the Selenites in 'Voyage to the Moon' (1902). The special effects are clever if not always 'convincing': the celestial ladder the king 'climbs' is obviously laying horizontally on a stage with the crawling actor filmed from above (the king sets his feet between the rungs at times as he climbs). There are some nice moving sets, optical-transitions (such as when the King's bed moves from his room to the clouds), double exposures (the King flying to and from Jupiter), and the matte shot of the magical book is well executed (de Chomón uses similar trick to bring a blackboard to life in 'Excursion dans la lune', his 1908 knock-off of Méliès' iconic lunar adventure). The tinted version available on-line is in good condition with some nice colours, especially the pyrotechnic scenes (the volcanoes and Jupiter's lightning bolts) and there seem to be variety of musical options. By 1909, there had been numerous fanciful space adventures involving wizards and dreams, and while de Chomón's film is well-made and entertaining for its era, it is neither particularly novel nor innovative (visually or technically).
- Dec 8, 2020
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