Freitag, Mai 25, 2012

Silent Films Illustrated With Commentaries By:

About Georges Méliès’ “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” (1902)

Silent Guest Stars: Herr Micromegas, Herr Eric Stott und Herr Rodney Sauer

Herr Micromegas wrote: “That raises an interesting point...
If indeed, the film draws upon H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon (seems obvious to me that it does although Melies only really ever acknowledged Jules Verne), then in turn the dreamlike nature could be indirectly due to......Johannes Kepler and his' Somnium (which chronicles an it's-all-a-dream journey to the moon). Wells - say some scholars - paid tribute to Kepler in his novel by having the FMinM characters - on more than one occasion - note the dreamlike nature of their trip. Personally, I think it's possible (dunno how probable ) that Melies picked up on this especially in view of the fact that the travelers take a quick snooze in one of the tableaux.

The influences on this little film are staggering. I would recommend Matthew Solomon's book on A Trip to the Moon for those interested in learning more”.

Und Herr Eric Stott replied: “Woah! This is an important film but claiming that it's influenced by Verne, Welles AND Kepler is probably giving it more weight than it can carry. I imagine Melies responding with "Verne, Yes. Wells- do you think I've got time to read novels? I've got movies to make and a theater to run. Kepler- who in heavens is he?".

Then Herr Micromegas said: “Well, it's all speculation. Did he consciously say to himself that he was going to put a dash of Kepler into his film? Probably not. ...Could he have picked it up in a scoop of Wells? More likely.
After all, there are other Wellsian items in the film: snow scenes, the Earth view, man-size mushrooms, giant swift growing plants and others besides the dream sequence.All in First Men in the Moon. Not much of a connection, you say? OK then how are the Selenites explained? Nobody even lands on the moon in the Verne novels. They are never even mentioned by Verne other than in a quick one or two sentence speculation that they exist. Yet, the Melies characters are captured by them (ala Wells' Cavor & Bedford) and meet the leader (the Grand Lunar in FMitM), Melies' Selenites look like Wells' book illustrations, Melies' Selenites are fragile as in Wells and so on...
That's pretty strong evidence that Wells influenced the Frenchman...and the conclusion that he did is shared by others.
We could go into it more, but the filmmaker - to many minds - also took his cue from fairgrounds exhibits, Magic Lantern/Glass Slide shows, plays, and everywhere he could. Any and all of these could have impacted the film. There were “A Trip to the Moon” examples of each back then.
Now, to pick up on the Kepler association was probably too isolated an example on my part. But to counter your statement that Melies might say “Wells- do you think I've got time to read novels? I've got movies to make and a theater to run. Kepler- who in heavens is he?”. Gosh just look at his film catalog…he “adapts” (for entertainment, granted) tons of things. Not aware of the writings of Kepler from way back when? Maybe. Maybe not. No time to read? Well, he must have read something to have given the astronauts such names as Nostradamus (who arguably prophesized moon travel in a rare passage), Alcolfribas (undoubtedly after the author Alcofribas Nasier a.k.a. Francois Rabelais with fictional characters that …traveled to the moon back in the 1500s even before Kepler’s writing) and Micromegas (a character in a Voltaire story who space travels), Who in heavens are all of them?”.

At this point Herr Eric Stott added: “OK, I was being flippant, but I still think that this film is getting so much critical analysis that it takes the fun out of it.

I should also admit that I'm a bit "off" Melies at the moment- I made the mistake of watching too many in succession on the Flicker Alley set. His best films are marvelous, but seeing too many of his second-best is like eating a whole bag of marshmallows at one sitting”.

Und Herr Micromegas replied: “More than anything it'll always be fun to watch Melies. And I agree with you. Watching too many of his films - much like viewing too many chapters of a serial - in one sitting is tedious”.

Suddenly Herr Rodney Sauer appeared and said: “A good analysis. And if there were a magic lantern show adapted from Welles' story, it would have given Melies the set pieces he needed for a rousing yarn. Part of the difference is the technology -- Jules Verne's idea of shooting the astronauts in a shell gave them no way to get home if they landed on the moon, so he chickened out and had the shot miss. (Melies answer, of just tipping the shell off the edge of the moon, was too much in violation of gravitational law for Verne's attempts to be accurate with his science.)

Welles' very clever but very impossible method -- the invention of a substance impervious to gravity, so that you could cover your ship in shutters made of that substance and it would fly off the earth as the earth spins under it, then you can open shutters towards the object you want the ship attracted to -- is far less cinematic; but it DOES allow you to get back from the moon using the same method you took to get there.

Besides, what good Frenchman would credit an English author, when there's a perfectly good French author to be proud of?”.

Writing about this Herr Micromegas: “Thanks! Now, the only part that I haven't doped out yet is how the astronaut and esteemed space man Fernandigalus fits into things!!!”.

Und finally Herr Von Galitzien said: “Usually lenghty articles often go unread by German counts not to mention longhaired discussions about ancient books on science issues ( at most, text captions ), for this reason Günthell did a summary written in a manner that is understandable to German counts and in this way finally this Herr Von could enjoy and learn a lot about such peculiar book scientific discussion on sci-fi French and English literatura”.

Published in alt.movies.silent.

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