Prof. Lilliesleaf: Voyage a la Lune

Lilliesleaf 02 smallerI always start each semester with a fun look back at what people thought life would be like on the Moon. There are lots of stories, both in books and in movies. Of course, the more recent you get, the more realistic and accurate they get.

That’s not to say that the writers of the twentieth century got it wrong. Science Fiction is not the accurate prediction of what’s to come, it is the exploration of a multitude of possibilities.

My favorite, though, always has been and always will be the 1902 classic Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) by Georges Melies.

The so-called scientists are wearing tall pointy hats, no doubt to illustrate their intellectual prowess. There is much gesticulating throughout, which is partly because it is a silent film, with only a musical accompaniment for sound.

They trade in their pointy hats for more sensible top hats before climbing into their bullet-shaped rocket, which is pushed into the launching mechanism by scantily-clad (for the day) women.

After a very gentle crash (directly in the man-in-the-moon’s eye) they emerge, each carrying an umbrella and, of course, gesticulating wildly. The Earth rises from below the horizon to high in the sky in a matter of seconds. (And if that’s your first complaint with the science behind this movie, I suggest you start it again.)

They are apparently tired after their trip because they all take out blankets and lie down on the lunar surface. Then… well, a lot of very strange stuff happens. They find a cavern filled with exotic flora.

The intrepid explorers are captured by horned hominid aliens, but they fight them off with their umbrellas and escape back to their capsule. They return to Earth, where the adoring crowds throw them a parade.

The Museum of Lunar History has a permanent display of the movie in their fiction section. There are even spears and umbrellas provided if you want to join in the fun! I highly recommend a visit.

In Grands (coming out August 29, 2015) the main characters have a showdown in the museum display dedicated to this movie.

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