A year before the Wright brothers launched the first airplane flight in 1903, Georges Méliès, a French filmmaker with already 400 films to his credit, directed a film that visualized a much bigger human ambition – landing a spacecraft on the moon. Loosely based on works by Jules Vernes (From the Earth to the Moon) and H. G. Wells (The First Men in the Moon), A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune) invented one of our favorite cinematic genres – the science fiction film. Today, many film critics consider Méliès' short film an enduring classic. The Village Voice ranked it #84 on its list of the 100 Best Films of the 20th Century, and you'll almost certainly recognize the iconic shot at the 4:44 mark.
Méliès's body of work, which goes well beyond this landmark film, has been recently collected into a new box set. Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) puts 173 rare and rediscovered films onto a 5 disc, 13-hour collection.
If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.