Without this silent short story, we might not have Sci-Fi movies

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  • Georges Méliès was a visionary director and illusionist who pioneered filmmaking techniques that still influence cinema today.
  • Méliès reverse-engineered the projector into the camera, allowing him to bring science fiction and create fantastical worlds.
  • Despite facing financial difficulties and a decline in his career later in life, Méliès left a lasting legacy that inspired future filmmakers such as Martin Scorcese.

Even if you haven’t seen it A trip to the moon (Le voyage dans la lune), you have seen images that come to represent. The man’s tortured face was buried in the surface of the moon, one eye gouged out by the arrival of a squat, heavy rocket ship. It’s as beautiful as it is disturbing — and it’s from one of the most influential science fiction films ever made. (By some accounts, it was also the first.) The 1902 film was only 14 minutes long, but its basic cinematic techniques still influence filmmaking today. In fact, CGI-fatigued viewers may be surprised at how effective they continue to be. Perhaps the only thing more interesting A trip to the moon is its creator. At the same time actors, artists, set makers, etc., directors with vision Georges Méliès Almost seems to have dreamed of his films on their filmstrips. It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that Méliès is also an illusionist. An initiator and/or popularizer of techniques such as stop motion, slow motion, and double exposure, his greatest trick is his film. We are still falling today.

Georges Méliès and his films

'A Trip to the Moon' director Georges Méliès with a woman in a butterfly dress.
Image via Getty Images

Georges Méliès was born in France in 1861, a time before “movies” as we know them existed. He discovered his love for art on the screen in the show Lumière The brothers’ work—both pioneered the use of monitors by inventing a new type of camera. (Previously, everyone had to look through the holes of the kinetoscope.) He immediately fell in love, trying to buy one of the brothers’ “Cinématographe”. Rejected, he took matters into his own hands, obtaining a similar mechanism from another manufacturer. There is only one problem: it can only play movies, not movies for them. Naturally, Méliès reverse-engineered the thing into the camera, and that’s it: the world is on the way to discover the film genre. At the time, movies weren’t real – they mostly stuck in the realm of documentaries or events that could play out in real life. Méliès aims to change that. He wants to make the sci-fi story come to life Jules Verne, to create a fantastical world and the impossible. Although his early work was experimental, dedicated to showing new camera tricks, (there is a term for this – trick films) it was still captivating. and in films as early as 1896 Haunted CastleFor example, camera tricks like a skeleton turning into a bat are set in a larger silent story. Méliès only continued to expand, building his own glass-enclosed studio in France. (He hoped it would allow for more natural light.) Between 1896 and 1913, he made more than 500 films, including art forms such as The impossible journey And Blue beard. But his greatest achievement will be photographed in 1902: A trip to the moon.

Related: Fly Me to the Moon: The Evolution of Going to the Moon in Movies

‘Journey to the Moon’ made history

Fireworks will shoot at the moon in the eyes of George Melies' A Trip to the Moon.
Image via Star Film Company

In the first scenes A trip to the moon, a group of wizard-like scientists trying to leave the world. They are amazingly exciting and show Méliès’ amazing design skills. His costumes are so richly painted that the actors almost blend in. The rich visual combination of the actor’s body and his outfit finally creates a beautiful blur of the plane. It’s almost like watching a painting come to life. A man, who turns out to be a scientist, is taking a rocket ship into space. Méliès himself played the role of their leader. In a clever use of perspective, the rocket stretched far into the flat sky — Méliès thought it resembled a cannon. Then, through the night sky, the man in the moon gets closer to the camera. Suddenly, in a quick cut, the rocket was stuck in his face, something softened down his cheek. Appearing on the surface, everything suddenly turned upside down – no longer in the world, everything from the surroundings to the weather changed. Surrounded by a rocky surface, they sleep. Above them, blooming clouds reveal a woman’s face – and suddenly, it’s clear that Méliès has invented a new kind of film. Abstract and cinematic, A trip to the moon Probably the first sci-fi movie ever made – and still one of the best. Far from newsreels, the film explores themes of empire, space travel, and beauty. It is a must see for any fan of cinematic art. After all, it greatly influenced them.

‘Journey to the Moon’ left a lunar legacy

A trip to the moon

A trip to the moon did more than break down one type of barrier — it broke down filmmaking barriers for others. Méliès’ technique allowed other directors to improve themselves. (Like his adaptation.) But that doesn’t mean his job is safe. Although A trip to the moon Popular at the time, it was a financial loss for Méliès – made worse by American pirates from the likes of Thomas Edison. (Not surprising, considering the history of Edison stealing the invention.) Although he made a very famous film, especially in 1903. Kingdom of the Fairies, Méliès’ later years would see him go through difficult times. The rise of the film industry, combined with the start of World War I and other personal and financial problems, caused his performance to decline.

Méliès lost almost everything. Soldiers also seized his negatives to melt the materials used to wear the heels, a strangely sad end to his art. But the final damage happened when he lost his beloved studio. Without a place to store them, Méliès burned many of the scraps and materials used to make his films, wasting them over time. In a way, it’s almost fitting: these dreams are too long to last. Fortunately, we have restored more than 200 of his films, which means that aspiring artists may still gather inspiration from their brilliant content. In fact, they already have. Director Martin Scorseseof Taxi driver Fame, has cited Méliès as an inspiration, and adapted a children’s book inspired by his work, in 2011. Hugo. Although we may not have seen all of Méliès’ oeuvre, we will have one of his greatest stories. Without it, today’s cinema would look less magical.

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