Today I watched the restored, colorized version of A Trip to the Moon from 1902 (but the restored, colorized version from 2011 with music by Air). One of the first feature films ever made with a storyline and an extensive cast, it tells the story (a story!) of a trip to the moon, with conflict! intrigue! suspense! action! comedy! Everything a film needs. A “revolution” at fourteen minutes, Schneider’s book suggests that this is the first chance a film had to present a purely cinematic fictional “fantasy constructed for pure entertainment,” opening a door to the future of film as a grand escapist platform.
I thought this was a charming little film – mainly for its connections to the Tonight Tonight video. That music video has a fascinating origin story outlined in the documentary about Wayne White called Beauty is Embarassing – an incredible film where White discusses his work with puppetry, MTV/Smashing Pumpkins, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and other great art projects.
This film is pretty revolutionary in a lot of ways. As I watched I couldn’t escape what I think of when I think early film…all of which don’t have a plot, and are just short snippets of something happening. Like The Horse and The Kiss. I also thought of the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret which romanticizes the fictional genesis of this film along with the Paris film industry.
This was a gorgeous film in its use of stop-film tricks, weird theatrical cardboard sets that at times were two dimensional and at times three dimensional, beautiful and complex costumes and makeup, and some really impressive special effects. A pleasure to watch in its new colorized incantation that added a somewhat extra level of magic to the film. Furthermore, having been scored by one of my favorite bands, AIR, it was a joy to experience. Audiences at the time must have been astonished.