Early Cinema’s First Science Fiction Flick

Nearly 116 years ago, genius film director and magician, Georges Melies, came out with the first science fiction movie ever to be seen. A Trip to the Moon (1902) was not his first nor his only film, but it is his most recognized. This silent film can be credited with inspiring most of the science fiction movies and media so popular today; it has all the elements of space, aliens, and crazy scientists as well. Melies not only wrote and directed the film, but also designed the set and costumes, acted in the lead role, and also produced the entire thing.

Before his venture into movie directing, Georges Melies was a stage magician. He began recording magic shows and sometimes presenting them on screen after learning about cinematography from an early presentation, and was enraptured by its function almost immediately. He is famous for being one of the first people to implement illusions he himself invented into his films, which started amazingly by accident. His first experience with film illusions happened to occur by mistake when during one of his early films, a camera had broken and was working so slowly, it was making the people on screen look like they were transforming into others. After that incident, Melies began working on ways to create more illusions with the cameras and ways to add them to his films to make them more interesting and special.

It’s Melias’ revolutionary work with special effects and illusions as well as the incredible plot that make A Trip to the Moonsuch a legendary piece of early cinema. The plot itself centers around a made up Astronomer’s Club and the adventures they experience when they launch themselves in a rocket to the moon; the Club itself pokes fun at the conservative scientific community back in those times. The five scientists that make up the Astronomer’s Club launch themselves to the moon in a rocket. The scene where they land on the moon’s face and poke the moon’s eye is a historical scene recognized by most anyone even to this day. The group of scientists encounters aliens living on the moon, who are actually played by a famous group of acrobats hired from the Folies Bergere. These aliens are called Selenites; the Selenites capture the scientists though they manage to escape and fall back to earth. They land in the ocean after falling from the moon and are found by and commended by a group of townspeople.

This silent film cost Melies over 10,000 francs and was considered very risky to produce. However, once it had been released it was considered widely successful and is referred to as the world’s first blockbuster by many people today. Its release in France was successful, though it was considered even more popular and prosperous in America. Unfortunately, the great amount of popularity led the film to be pirated many times and distributed under several fake names by numerous people. In those days Georges Melies didn’t always get full credit to his masterpiece, but in this day and age he is recognized as the sole creator of the film and in 2015 was even admitted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame for his extraordinary work.