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The second trip to the moon

An iconic image of silent film: a space ship approaches the face in the moon and crashes into its… mouth? In 1908 a competitor made a nearly identical shot-for-shot remake of Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon.

The early Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón gets a lot of flak for being a knock-off of Georges Méliès (who, among other things, accidentally created a 3D film), but Chomón was a significant innovator too. He was one of the first to use stop-motion, in 1906:

And he may have been the one to invent the tracking / dolly shot, as the cinematographer and special effects designer of the Italian epic film Cabiria:

(Jump to 1:12:32 if you’d like to see an example of these early tracking shots.)

But Chomón was also responsible for Excursion to the Moon. This 1908 silent film is a shameless remake of Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. There are some minor changes: soldiers load the space cannon rather than women, for example, and rather than capturing a lunar resident one of the astronauts marries her.

The biggest giveaway that this is not Méliès is the famous shot of the space capsule crashing into the moon face. Rather than landing in the eye, this time the capsule flies directly into the moon’s mouth, followed by a belch of flame. You can watch the whole thing here:

This remake was unauthorised, of course: the Pathé Frères studio was in competition with the films of Méliès and wanted their own version. Pretty shameless, if you ask me.


Categories: Arts & recreation Europe Places Screen & stage

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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