Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon
“Best moving pictures I ever saw.” Thus did one Vaudeville theater manager describe Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon [Le Voyage dans la lune], after it was screened for enthusiastic audiences in October 1902. Cinema’s first true blockbuster, A Trip to the Moon still inspires such superlatives and continues to be widely viewed on DVD, on the Internet, and in countless film courses. In Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination, leading film scholars examine Méliès’s landmark film in detail, demonstrating its many crucial connecions to literature, popular culture, and visual culture of the time, as well as its long “afterlife” in more recent films, television, and music videos. Together, these essays make clear that Méliès was not only a major filmmaker but also a key figure in the emergence of modern spectacle and the birth of the modern cinematic imagination, and by bringing interdisciplinary methodologies of early cinema studies to bear on A Trip to the Moon, the contributors also open up much larger questions about aesthetics, media, and modernity.
In his introduction, Matthew Solomon traces the convoluted provenance of the film’s multiple versions and its key place in the historiography of cinema, and an appendix contains a useful dossier of primary-source documents that contextualize the film’s production, along with translations of two major articles written by Méliès himself. Included with the book is a critical edition DVD containing two versions of the film: a reconstructed version (finally presented at the speed specified in Méliès’s catalogs) accompanied by an original 1903 score and a recently rediscovered color-tinted version; both have optional audio commentaries by the editor.
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