Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Trip to the Moon - 1902

This review will refer to the hand-colored, 2011 restored version featuring music from the French band "Air".

What first caught my eye in A Trip to the Moon was that it didn't have any dialogue title cards.  There are a few segments wherein people talk, they argue, there is evident talking, and normally one or two dialogue cards would come up, but his movie had none.  Whether that is due to the lack of them in the original or that is exclusive to this version I don't know.

Secondly, the coloring is just so much fun to watch.  The movie rate is 22 frames per second, quite a bit slower than the modern films, and thus it looks a little more jumpy.  And interspersed in those frames you can see the coloring jumping around, generally going into the wrong areas, etc.  It's really quite interesting to see and to pause the movie and imagine those people individually coloring the frames.

The other thing I noticed and said to my wife while we watched is that it's amazing how you can still tell to this day just how much work they put into this film.  Everything that was drawn by hand, all the backgrounds, all the sets and the props, they are absolutely amazing.  Also, of course the camera never moves.  In those days the camera was huge, expensive, and you only had one of them.  So in that way this feels a lot more like a play.

The film story line is of some men that make a rocket that will go to the moon, they shoot it to the moon where it famously lands in the eye of the moon.  On the moon they encounter a race of people, who don't want them there.  That's basically it, I mean it's only 18 minutes long so there's not that much else to write about plot wise.

The story feels like a mix between a fantasy and a comedy, although there aren't big laughs they were going for, some of the stuff is done in a silly, fun-having way.  It feels very accessible, there is something there for everybody, in a good way.

The sequence on the moon feels strange, very surreal, and it is slightly confusing.  Sometimes the sequences that take place don't seem to link very well, and although it's never a big WTF moment or anything, some things kind of make you guess at what happened.

All in all this is necessary viewing for probably everyone to understand film's beginnings.  Although I appreciated the color, I think watching it in black and white would be fine.  I also didn't really enjoy the new soundtrack by Air, I would've liked to have seen it without a soundtrack, or with whatever sound it had originally had.


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