Why should you buy A Trip to the Moon on Blu-ray? It’s less than fifteen minutes long. Despite the longevity of its reputation, it’s not an overwhelmingly transformative artistic experience. Hell, you can watch the thing on the internet whenever you please.
Well, I’ll tell you why you should buy it on Blu-ray, you little smartass. Because you love film. I’m assuming you do if you’re reading a review on this website, which hasn’t exactly crossed over into the mainstream yet. And a love of film means a desire to delve into the history of it, to be able to contextualize cinema from every age by understanding the trends and the contemporaries of the movies you love most. Being a true cinephile requires a good deal of work and you want to be proud of the research you’ve done and show it off. In recent memory, there are few better emblems of commitment to cinema history to place on your shelf than Flicker Alley’s new, cool-looking tin case that holds a two disc set of A Trip to the Moon.
Two discs may seem like a lot for a film you could watch on YouTube at work while your boss steps out for coffee. That’s because the release contains two versions of the film (beautiful black and white plus a long in the works restoration of the film to its original hand-painted 1902 colors) as well as other films by director Georges Méliès and, most intriguingly, an hour-long documentary called The Extraordinary Voyage about the film, Méliès and the nearly two decades between the hand-painted version’s rediscovery in 1993 and its eventual completion and presentation in 2011.
What you already know is that Méliès was a pioneer in the field of special effects. Tsimple idea of removing an actor from the set but editing the film together so that he or she simply disappears is something a child could do with a consumer-grade video camera now. What you may not grasp is that it took real innovation 110 years ago. Meanwhile, the more traditional but no less fantastical element of elaborately designed and constructed sets is also impressive.
The hand-painted version is absolutely lovely to look at and the film itself is quite entertaining. The casual violence with which the moon men are dispatched may be a disconcerting look at the elitism of early twentieth century Europeans but that same casualness makes it kind of funny. There’s an enchanting nature to the adventure on screen, due mostly to the fact that you never believe these people are truly in danger. There’s a childlike innocence to the make-believe that may remind you of a time that you were young enough to believe it might be possible to get to the moon in a rocket hammered together in a barn.
You want to own this Blu-ray because it’s a worthy presentation of one of the most important films of all time. You want to own it because you want people to see that you own it. Finally, you want to own it because you’ll want to watch it more often than you think and this is the way you want to see it.