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A Trip to the Moon

by Wooley
posted on 9/20/22

A Trip To The Moon

That was some crazy-ass shit.
One thing I've learned watching all these turn-of-the-century short films from the early days of the medium is that if they were going to go through all the trouble to make one of these things, they were gonna make it pretty fantastical. It's a real education to learn how much of early filmmaking was Fantasy, Science-fiction, and Horror, and just how fantastical and phantasmagoric these films are.
In this case, we have Georges Melies and co., portraying a group of scientists who wear wizard hats and gowns, deciding that they can actually go to the moon by being shot out of a very large cannon. There is much fanfare and they are fired off on their celestial path. Upon landing, they note the sometimes-hostile, sometimes-psychedelic environment...

... before being accosted by a Moon-person, hopping around and scooching on its ass toward them. Their response to this, like all Colonizers, is to perceive this as a threat and kill him instantly. With an umbrella.
More Moon-people attack and they are taken captive and brought to the Moon King. I won't spoil the ending but they're White European Colonizers so you can pretty much rest assured that genocide ensues. Per sources I've read, this was intentional social commentary by Melies. But I'd also believe that that was just the normal world-view at that time.
Honestly, this is such a bizarre film, so far beyond what I expected (though it was tempered a bit by having watched several of Melies' short-films over the last few years), and when I made my captive audience watch it the other night, even they commented how much further "out there" this was than anything they expected to see from that era. They actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
It is worth mentioning that the version on HBOMax, the one I watched, is both the color-tinted version and the version with a crazy-ass soundtrack including glockenspiels and sythesizers and it really adds to how nuts the proceedings seem. Given that the film has no original score or sound of any kind and it was up to the exhibitor to provide what they could or would, I think that all soundtracks are valid and therefore this one totally is.
I highly recommend this at 12 minutes.

If you want to just watch it on YouTube, this is probably the best version but it lacks a crazy-ass glockenspiel and synthesizer soundtrack: