Discussion Topic: Photography and Special Effects in Early Film

Georges Méliès, A Trip to the Moon, 1902

Georges Méliès released the first science fiction film A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune) in 1902. The filmmaker spared no expense for special effects and is regarded as the “father of special effects.” Some of you may have seen Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), which features Méliès, who really went bankrupt in old age and eked out a living selling candy and toys in the Montparnasse station in Paris.  Review his short film and consider the following questions.  Do any aspects of the film recall the practices of early photography?  What are some differences and similarities between the photographic camera and the film camera?

There are many copies on the web of various degrees of quality (you can even find copies of a recently restored hand-colored version).  The quality of the following version on YouTube is very good.

Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon

If you are interested, you can watch a clip from Scorsese’s Hugo here. The music video for Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins is an homage to Méliès, watch it here.

The DUE DATE to submit your blog posts for this topic is Sunday, December 1st.

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7 Responses to Discussion Topic: Photography and Special Effects in Early Film

  1. diego says:

    it seems like in this film some of the scenes look as if they were pictures in motion like when the men are working on the missile or rocket ship. pictures were a great help in this mini clip because they helped with the background. the difference between camera and film to me are the same because they have either still motion pictures or movement either way they are still taking pictures and recording. i think maybe sound changes the way the recording. before there was not any sound but the music was a great tribute to the mini clip.

  2. Verna Fogg says:

    Watching A Trip to the Moon did not strike my attention. I do understand that movies like this particular one communicates with the viewer through anticipated music. Me whoever, will need sub titles. Thats the only way I can really understand whats going on. When it comes to the similarities between photographic camera and film camera is that the lens are required to capture light. The lenses are used to focus and un-focus light to create an image of a scene…the differences with film camera is you have to take the time to load into the camera and then develop in tight conditions. Printing negatives are not always guaranteed to process correctly, you will have to try several times.

  3. Fred says:

    This interests me a lot. I like his whole production and creativity. Alot of the aspects of the film recall the practices of early photography. Because of the black and white scenes. The lines coming down in the film depicts it is early photography and the graphics says it as well. Photographic camera is used more to capture photos and film camera is used to capture a series of photos to make basically a short film or what we call a video. But both of these devices are used to capture moments or scenes.

  4. Mahamuda says:

    this kind of film really make me laugh, because they are kinda remind me of Charlie Chaplin. some films are understandable and some are not. the film camera capture a series of a story to make short film and photographic camera capture a single moment. and i love black and white films, and specially they are funny.

  5. Andy says:

    Georges Méliès’s film A Trip to the Moon was to me seemed to be epic for its time. A few years prior to the making of this film another Iconic artist was Charlie Chaplin who also was able to create suspense, a great story line and deliver it with clarity. One huge similarity in which photographing and film producing is that both at the beginning of their creation were not generalized as art and looked down upon, but they also share the praise that they get from amazing their audience. The early film does highly resemble early photography, the use of props to tell a story is a major resemblance in the two. Editing and special effects also was impacted by early photography. The obvious difference in the two is the non-stop motion. Photography gives you an image which you can assume a thousand different scenarios as were film will give you continues images to explain to you what’s being depicted.

  6. TAMiix3 says:

    I think Melies’s film A Trip to the Moon paved the way for artist and film makers today. The way he combined images together in his film was unseen in his time. he made film putting pictures together. I liked the movie but im not a fan a black and white movies.

  7. Hey! This post could not be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!

    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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