Sci-Fi History Bites: Georges Melies, the father of speculative fiction films

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Summer movie goers enjoyed movies such as “The BFG,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” to name a few.  Speculative fiction cinema is a huge, ever-growing genre.  In earlier years, few people considered speculative fiction a serious cinematic domain.  Technology, talented writers and devoted fans helped change that perspective.  Bigger cinematic budgets turned an odd sub-culture into a main-stream money making business.  This leads one to ponder, “How did speculative fiction movies get started?”

The father of speculative fiction cinema was Marie Georges Jean Méliès, a.k.a. Georges Melies.  He was among the earliest filmmakers to bring a science fiction film to the big screen.  His black and white, silent film “Le Voyage dans la Lune” (or “A Trip to the Moon”) debut in 1902.  “Le Voyage dans la Lune” was inspired by the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.  Though comical by today’s standard, Melies’s film laid the foundation for the future of speculative fiction in cinema.

Melies was born on Dec. 8th, 1861, in Paris, France.  His father was a wealthy shoemaker.  Melies developed a passion for art, puppetry, and theater stage magic.  This passion led him to filmmaking as a young man.  In 1896, he co-founded the Star Film Company.  He produced over 500 films, but his most famous film was “Le Voyage dans la Lune.”  It was an expensive thirteen minutes long venture.

As life imitates art, man landed on the moon July 20, 1969.  Unfortunately, Melies would never see that historic day of the first moon landing.  It was decades after his death.  Melies died from cancer on Jan. 21, 1938.  Nevertheless, it would be interesting to hear Melies’s thoughts about present day space travel and the possible inspiration from the first science fiction film, “Le Voyage dans la Lune.”

“Le Voyage dans la Lune”

C. C. J. Vann
C. C. J. Vann is a published freelance journalist and sci-fi television enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter@ccjvann or visit her blog at ccjvann.com.
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