Le Voyage Dans la Lune (1902)

Le Voyage Dans la Lune (Trip to the Moon, in English) is perhaps Georges Méliès' most famous film, and is considered to be the first science fiction film in cinematic history. The 12 minute film follows a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule, explore the Moon's surface, escape from an underground group of native moon inhabitants (known as Selenites), and return to Earth with one of them as captive. While at once a spoof of more serious science fiction, the film can also be seen as a comment on France's colonial exploits (it was at the time the world's second largest colonial power). Méliès himself plays, as was his wont, the main role of the wonderfully named Professor Barbenfouillis. When asked in 1930, Méliès cited Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon as the main influences for the film, but cinema historians have also mentioned the influence of Adolphe Dennery's stage adaption of Verne, and also H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon, a French translation of which was published only a few months before Méliès made the film. Jacques Offenbach's operetta Le voyage dans la lune (an unauthorized parody of Verne's novels) and also the "A Trip to the Moon" attraction at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, have also been talked of as being possible inspiration.

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One in a set of twelve stereo cards showing scenes from Offenbach's 1875 operetta Le voyage dans la lune, circa 1885 — Source.