George Méliès’ 1902 epic short, La Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), invented the science fiction film, and revolutionized filmmaking.
Méliès’ film centers on a group of astronomers, depicted as wizard-like men with pointed, star-covered hats, who find a way to reach the moon. Using theatre-like sets and performers, Méliès follows the men as they design a giant projectile that will be fired, via cannon, at the Moon. Using forced perspective and various dissolves, Méliès transitions between his scenes perfectly. Wooden facades painted like the interior of a grand lecture hall, or the craggy landscape of the Moon give the film a light, almost comical touch. Effects that are on par with science fiction and monster movies made decades later enhance Méliès’ film, giving it an air of modernity. Some of the effects are simply astounding for a film made in 1902, and, apart from the lack of sound and the quality of the film stock itself, rank with the likes of 1950’s science fiction.