See the moving picture

FIGURE 3.26

The Epic Moon Shot

Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon)

Georges Méliès, Star-Film, France, 1902

The First Nutty Professors   The expedition is proposed at a meeting of the Astronomy Club. In costume, makeup, and demeanor, Méliès’ scientists, here as elsewhere, bear a very close resemblance to his magicians and alchemists, who are usually discovered evoking collective nightmares or individual fantasies rather than making feasible plans for voyages of discovery.

The First Moon Shot   The rocket “ship,” which resembles a huge bullet, is constructed in a massive factory that looks a lot like Méliès’ Montreuil studio. The idea of shooting men to the moon from an outsized cannon was Jules Verne’s, but Méliès’ literal realization of the projectile suggests a joke about the popular notion of “progress”: reduced to an appropriately cartoonish image for the delectation of lower-middle–class audiences, Verne’s vision thus seems more simple-minded than forward-looking.

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