A Trip to the Moon (1902): The First Great Sci-Fi Film

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.

A Trip to the Moon has been added to our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online. You can also down­load a ver­sion at the Inter­net Archive.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The First Hor­ror Film, George Méliès’ The Haunt­ed Cas­tle(1896)

Watch After the Ball, the 1897 “Adult” Film by Pio­neer­ing Direc­tor Georges Méliès (Almost NSFW)

Watch the First Russ­ian Sci­ence Fic­tion Film, Aeli­ta: Queen of Mars (1924)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.