French filmmaker Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) is widely considered the first ever science fiction movie. It turns 110 years old this year.
It drew inspiration from both H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon and Jules Verne’s From Earth to the Moon, and, though it lacked any coherent plot, Méliès’s innovative special effects were a marvel to its viewers (he also designed the sets, acted in the lead role, produced, and directed). Although the film was a success, Méliès eventually went bankrupt in part because of Thomas Edison and his associates, who, among other American filmmakers, distributed stolen copies of his movies in the United States and reaped enormous profits. This was Méliès’s 400th film (he would go on to make over 500), and it cost 10,000 Francs to produce.
Colored versions of Méliès’s movies were sold alongside black-and-white ones, but hand-colored prints of this particular film, his most famous, were only rediscovered in 1993. The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival completely restored with color and a new soundtrack, 109 years after its original release in 1902.
I’ve yet to watch this, but I’ve listened to the new soundtrack and it is stellar.