1902 – Georges Méliès: “A Trip to the Moon” Review

“A Trip to the Moon” Review

One of the first original stories to ever be captured on film, this silent French adventure shoots for the stars. This Georges Méliès film is short but has a lasting impact. Have you ever seen a photo of the man in the moon getting hit with a rocket in the eye? That is from this film.

PLOT – Scholars discuss traveling to the moon, and do so, meeting creatures that live on the moon. They are captured by these creatures but escape back to earth. Their ship is boated in, and they are rewarded with a parade.

The plot is simple to follow for the most part. 4/5

CHARACTERS – The lead scholars in this short film offer some expository actions and humorous movements. They are usually excited and cheerful about what they see, and offer simple movements to convey their mood to the audience. There are several women dressed in sailor uniforms sending the rocket off that don’t add much to the plot. The moon creatures are imposing and their designs look humanoid, yet with added spikes instead of hair. They antagonize the scholars in the latter half of the film. The costuming is also very good on all characters.

The characters are again, simple, but charming and fun. 4/5

DIALOGUE – There are few words in the film, and all words are replaced by actions. It is difficult to understand what is happening in the first half of the short, and more questions than answers are raised. The film’s meaning is clearer in companion materials and by searching the internet, but confusing for a first-time viewer.

The first half of the film is somewhat confusing, but the latter half is easier to follow. 3/5

EFFECTS – The effects and sets are the best parts of the film. When the scholars defeat the moon creatures, they disappear and a puff of smoke is all that’s left. This is achieved by a cut to the smoke with the moon creature offscreen.

The Man in the Moon effect is awesome, and the makeup is stellar, with pieces melting off the moon and several craters seen. I personally don’t like the rocket appearing suddenly on his eye, but the speed of the effect is shockingly funny, as is the Moon’s annoyed facial expression.

The set design is also beautiful. The school, the moon, and the town are all represented wonderfully with matte paintings and set pieces. The rocket’s design is simple yet effective with rivets and a tapered conical shape like a bullet.

The effects and sets in this film are fantastic, especially for the time period. 7/5 (Mostly to make up for the next section)

MUSIC – There is no music for this film, as it is silent. Music would be a detriment to the pure visuals on the screen.

There is no music. – 0/5

OVERALL – A wonderful start to film itself. I enjoyed this immensely, and each scene provided questions that, while they would not be answered, had me hooked to the film like a mystery. While the effects are fantastic for its time and the characters and plot are somewhat interesting yet charming, the script and music are severely lacking in cohesion and, well, instrumentation, respectfully.


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