We were asked after a briefing to watch an old French silent film called Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A trip to the moon) by Georges Méliès. My initial thoughts while watching it were that it was an extremely amateur project which was expected as the use of the sophisticated angles and camera shots we’re all used to seeing hadn’t been introduced to film yet, but I made some interesting observations after seeing past these flaws.
Firstly I realised that the set up was more of a theatrical presentation than a film shot, this being portrayed through the very linear composition of the people and objects in the shot. Secondly, it appeared to me that the directors wanted to get everything they felt was significant in the shot instead of having a more natural approach and allowing some things to be missed out as they would be in reality. The effect of this was that instead of the occupants of the scene being spread outwards, they were spread upwards (as if taking a class photo) which made the opening scenes come across as less of a film shot and more of a theatre performance.
The moon scenes are more centred around the background and environment which I gathered as the heroines in these scenes , despite being who the film revolves around, were in the bottom corners of the shots making the view of the earth from space more central and significant to the eye. The use of shot space improved significantly towards the end of the film as the background became more relevant and therefore was conveyed better.
Also, the moon scenes had an eerie feel to them which was probably the effect of the glowing lighting contrasted from the bleak dark background of space. Although after watching this short film I remain unimpressed with its storyline, visuals etc, I can appreciate its significance to time and the history of film. Its importance in history is evident through the influence it’s had on modern film and media. The biggest example of this would be in the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Tonight, Tonight’ music video in which a moon with human facial features is explored by humans just like in the film. Matt Groening’s Adult cartoon ‘Futurama’ also made reference to the old Méliès classic, where Bender the robot ends up throwing a bottle into a moon-headed beings face as a pun to the film, resembling the iconic moon-face with the rocket in it.