Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination: Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon

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SUNY Press, May 1, 2011 - Performing Arts - 271 pages
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“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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Contents

Introduction
1
Georges Méliès Filmmaker and Magician 18611938
25
Reevaluating the Cinema of Georges Méliès
31
A Composite Film
49
Mélièss Debt to Verne and Wellsand His Influence in Great Britain
65
Méliès le Cinéma and the Moon
81
Reframing Modern Vision
97
7 A Trip to the Moon as Féerie
115
From Robida to Méliès and Marcel Fabre
183
12 No OneWay Ticket to the Moon
201
Appendix
225
A Fantastical Trip to the Moon
227
Reply to Questionary
233
The Marvelous in the Cinema
235
The Importance of the Script
241
Contributors
245

8 A Trip to the Moon as an American Phenomenon
129
9 A Trip to the Fair orMoonWalking in Space
143
A Feminist Forage into a Famous Film
161

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About the author (2011)

Matthew Solomon is Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. He is the author of Disappearing Tricks: Silent Films, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century.

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