Hello and welcome to the first Shawn's SciFi September review! I am pleased to begin a new journey in my life by bringing to you my personal reviews of science fiction stories. This new found journey is a combination of a life long love of scifi movies and shows, a recent literature class on science fiction, and a large amount of inspiration from a good friend, Mr. Pat.
Pat Nowacki is the man behind Mr. Pat's 31 Days of Halloween, a site where he watches and reviews a Halloween/Horror movie every day in October. This October will be his 11th year.
Pat had been gracious enough to allow me to be his "Renfield" by assisting with the social media pages and website. During this time I have grown to appreciate his commitment to this cause that it inspired me.
Starting today, I will be doing something similar that I hope will become a good lead in for Pat. With Pat's encouragement and support, I will be doing my own movie reviews.
The basics are the same - One scifi review a day for every day of September. A few differences are I am including short films and other mediums (think "War of the Worlds" original broadcast?)
I'm sure our styles will be different. Pat of course is seasoned and exceptional at what he does where I am starting brand new. However, I love writing and any chance to write something fun, I'm on it!
I'll share these through a special section on the Lone Star Veteran site and social media. From there I'll share here to get the word out.
I would be remiss not to extend a special thank you to Pat's wife, Rebecca "Dear" Nowacki, who clearly allows Pat to do what he does. Also, to their son, Lincoln the "President Baby", who is a budding star in his own way.
Thank you all and let the SciFi flow!
Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)
Directed by: Georges Méliès
Music by: David Short - Billi Brass Quintet
Watch On: Youtube
Review Alpha 9.1.21.0001
Today's review is Le Voyage dans la Lune, considered by most to be the first science fiction film. Filmed in 1902 and directed by Georges Méliès, this film is short in length but long in imagination. Considering where our understanding of the moon was at the turn of the 20th century, this piece takes us into the wild imagination of Méliès where a troupe of scientists launch themselves into space and land on the moon where they encounter all manner of exotic sights, run into danger with the local indigenous population, escape and return home to a hero's welcome, all the while to music since this was made in the era of silent film.
To begin with, when watching this movie through 21st century eyes, it is like watching a theater production that was recorded with a grainy camera filter. Considering that the film is 119 years old, that is to be expected. Once you get through that, the film is amazing. The sets are fantastic and detailed. Some of the paintings in the back drops are obvious while some of the other background elements such as the comet and the stars are a bit silly. For it's time though, it is no wonder this movie made such an impact.
A bunch of Academics wearing Hogwarts clothing are in the midst of a lecture where the lead Academic proposes they go to the moon. This leads to a argument where the Academics are very vocal, through the musical score, before the shed their wizard robes and hats and are dressed by a group of women into more practical attire for the time, which is to say they look like they are about to go on a picnic.
From there, the Academics arrive at an industrial yard where they enter a large bullet, similar to what you might see in a Mario Bros game. They are sealed inside the hollow chamber, loaded into a cannon by the same group of women helpers. From there they are shot from an absurdly long cannon, something even more massive than the ridiculous cannons the Germans created in World War II, and in a moment they land in the moon's eye.
One of the best parts of this first act of the movie is how Méliès captures early 20th century Europe at the time. From the arrangement of the lecture hall to the industrial smokestacks billowing smoke in the background when the Academics are loaded into their capsule, the movie brilliantly captures life in Industrial Europe.
Now on the moon, the Academics unload from their flying space bullet and explore their immediate surroundings. I admit I laughed because the Academics were still dressed for a picnic and not in space suits. The scuttle around a little and exclaim when they see the Earth rise. All this excitement proved to be too much for the Academics who then proceed to pull out blankets, of all things, and sleep the night away on the lunar surface, missing a comet fly by.
When they wake up in the morning, the Academics explore a cave that would do Alice in Wonderland proud with the size of the mushrooms growing inside the cavern. There is a breath-taking waterfall flowing in the background, giving the space a sense of tremendous depth. The Academics continue to explore further until the meet the Lunar Locals. They are the Selenites, named for the Greek Goddess Selene. However, the Academics at this time wouldn't have called them that and referred to then as locals.
These locals could best be described as lizard-like in appearance with horned heads and claws for hands. Using obvious African cultural influences in the design of the village and their attire, they are armed with spears and their bodies striped like they are wearing paint. The Lunar Locals and the Academics have a misunderstanding where the lead Academic attacks the village leader by grabbing him off his throne and slamming him to the ground, who proceeds to explode into a poof of smoke!
This causes the rest of the Lunar Locals to give chase after the Academics, where a few more are disposed of into poofs of smoke when hit with an umbrella. Finally, the Academics return to the capsule, load up and seal themselves in with one of the Academics pulling the capsule off the side of a cliff where they fall but not before one of the locals jumps onto the back. They proceed to fall into a body of water with large jellyfish, a few salamander type creatures, and a sunken ship.
It is then we realize that this was the return trip back to Earth because we see the Academics as the VIPs in a parade after being towed back to port by a steamship. During the parade we see a parade marshal, a cheering crowd, marching band, the capsule being towed by a few women, an honor guard composed of women carrying rifles, and finally the Academics cheering and self-congratulating their journey. At the end, the stowaway Lunar Local is paraded out by two men, one leading it with a rope around it's neck and another with a rod driving him forward. At first the Lunar Local is fighting but it ends up dancing with one of its captors. The film then cuts to a statue of the Head Academic and a crowd dancing around it, hand in hand. Its a silly ending but the music makes it comical.
I can hear some of the professors and classmates I have had going on a tangent about how this is both an anti-Industrial and anti-Colonial film but to me its nothing of the sort. Instead, what I watched was a well produced theater production, especially for the time, that has an excellent musical score, imaginative set designs, lots of European influences, and a desire to imagine and explore what was unknown to people at the time but something they dreamed of discovering.
This movie was surprisingly entertaining for what is was and I feel it was a good choice to start SciFi September.
Warp 6 on the SciFi Drive!
Next Review: Spectral (2016)
Please share your comments about Le Voyage dans la Lune.