Bad Cinema Corner: 'Le Voyage Dans La Lune' (1902) [Part 1]
A Storied Review Based on "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" – #0001
Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) – George Méliès
Also Known As: I Could Not Attend My Cousin’s Weird Theatre Play About Wizards On The Moon, So I Asked My Mom To Film It And Show It In Every Subsequent Family Meeting Ever To The Chagrin Of Everyone Else
Genre: Jules Verne’s stories would’ve been better with slapstick pratfalls.
RATING: ★ ★ ✰ ✰ ✰
Molly Graham is watching Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar for the seventh time this month. It’s Wednesday night, a school night, and it’s way past her bedtime, but she cannot get enough of the film. Her parents are sleeping in the room right next to her, snoring loudly, believing their nine-year-old daughter is traversing the land of dreams just as they are. Instead, she is sitting on the floor of their living room, eyes peeled wide open, watching one of their “forbidden films” stowed away on the top shelf. She’s watching it with the mute setting on, not wanting to disturb anyone or give away her position. She doesn’t need to listen to what the characters are saying. By this point, she knows all of the dialogues by heart.
The movie ends. The end credits start crawling up. It’s two in the morning. Molly starts feeling a bit sleepy, her head inching to one side in an effort to find a horizontal position in which to rest for the night but, as if it was a mechanical action brought upon by her instinct to survive, she presses play on the remote control. Her heart needs more; it’s just like a drug to her. She just has to see the film again. The movie starts and she becomes trapped in a trance-like state, forgetting the cumulative tiredness harbored inside of her.
If Molly were asked to summarize the film, she would fail miserably. She would probably vomit a long string of nonsense as she is unable to grasp just what Interstellar is trying to tell her. She’s not even sure if she understands the basic story transpiring before her eyes. She only knows every scene gives her veritable goosebumps and an insurmountable amount of excitation for the journey ahead — not only the film’s, but hers. The themes of love, time, scientific dimensions and reality monologuing to her via the screen are jettisoning way over her head, not even leaving a chemtrail from which she could hang on to. But she doesn’t care. The mere act of watching the movie is enough for her. She has never experienced anything similar. All her previous outings into the world of cinema had been bland, to say the least. They were entertaining, but her life seemed to never be changed after watching the random PG adventure her parents sent her way.
Interstellar is different.
Watching it, she can almost feel the cold touch of space covering her throughout the visuals. If she stretches her hand long enough and touches the screen, she is able to sense the slow passage of time that the characters are being subjected to. And there’s a smile on her face all throughout the 169 minutes of bliss Interstellar represents to her.
Molly has fallen in love. Not with a person but with an idea. The idea of space.
Her enrapturement in the film was so deep she almost didn’t hear the household movement when her parents woke up. Feet being dragged around the floor, closet doors being opened and closed with disregard to the city’s noise pollution decree, grunts galore. Molly went from witnessing the best movie ever created in the entire history of the world, according to how she has described it to friends ever since, to hiding the forbidden Blu-Ray disc beneath the sofa in less than a second. It was too late to pretend she was sleeping. Her only choice was to make-believe she had woken up earlier than anyone in order to prepare breakfast for the whole family. However, without the benefit of having rested her brain for a few hours beforehand, she lacked the motor skills necessary for cooking anything. Even if she had, her mind was full of fantastic images of space and far away planets. As a result, her pancake mix was missing the flour. Her mother told her it was the best breakfast she’d ever had in ages. Her father limited himself to saying he just wasn’t hungry that morning while chugging a double serving of black coffee to wash away the taste.
The situation wasn’t that dissimilar on the way to school. As it was her custom, Molly’s mother tried to spark up a conversation with her daughter. The once talkative girl was completely silent. She had her face pressed against the window, looking at every little object passing them by on the outside, her mouth as wide opened as her eyes. She was marveling at the parallax scrolling effect happening right before her, in the real world. Every tree, every person, every hydrant, seemed to be crossing her eyeline at breakneck speed. She knew they were either immobile or just moving slower than the car she was in, but the effect was undeniable. It looked as if she was still and, the world around her, was moving through space and time at a different rate. The millions and millions of screenshots from Interstellar embedded in her mind starting inserting themselves into reality, melting her vision into a collage of uncooked visuals and ideas that made her feel as if she was being transported into a dimension that actually mattered. Her smile broadened. Wormholes were not only a real tangible thing, she was living inside one.
During school, she was unreachable. Her eyes seemed to be covered by stars and the differently colored flows of time happening simultaneously inside her retinas. She moved both slower and faster than everyone else, her body becoming a blur of incomprehensible dimensions. On the plus side, it was the first time her teachers described her as something other than “a nuisance for her classmates.” She had become an identifiable collection of sighs and lost stares into nothingness without a definite form. Molly was becoming the idea she was fixated on. Even an unfortunate incident involving tuna casserole being consumed inside the classroom made no effect on her. Everyone left the room except for her. The nauseating smell could not break the bond between her gaze and the unseen horizon in front.
Molly became a quiet blurry blob of question marks throughout the day. The authorities were flabbergasted by the lack of human inside what was left of Molly. Without being able to grasp any options to bring her back to the world of the living, they decided she had warranted herself a trip to the infirmary. She sat there, blurring time and space in the waiting room, as immovable as before, right next to a kid who was becoming a bigger nervous breakdown. He didn’t notice Molly. He was too busy trying to fight off the sonic attack that was the hollers coming from the nurse’s office. He was failing in this battle as the yells grew exponentially in sound as time went by. The nurse was busy treating a student that had, somehow, found a way to insert an almost microscopic splinter near his crotch. With every passing second, it seemed as of the life of this anonymous student was inching away from his body, one pinch in the nether regions at a time. In the beginning, the angry howls erupting from the nurse trying to understand how on Earth this could happen to a fully-clothed person were masking the yowls. But they became louder, harsher, blood-curdling-er. When she started yammering orders to the student, asking him to stat still, her voice had been lost to the ether of pain’s sound.
The kid next to Molly, about to be disassembled by his shaking skeleton’s marrow, had forgotten how scared he was of seeing a miserable amount of his own blood dripping off of his scraped elbows. He started fearing for his life, not by internal means, but by external ones. His tears of pain quickly dried out as the anonymous student plead for his life in Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 with reverb. He began quivering, his courage being molten into sweat. What was going on inside that office? Were the legends true? Was the school nurse moonlighting as the sole provider for kid-meat barbecues all around town as the seventh graders had told him? In an effort to suppress his own thoughts, he took out his cellphone to stream an episode of his favorite cartoon character. His device was at full volume, but the dual screams from the infirmary overcame it all. He plugged in his earbuds. Only the music from the cartoon episode filled his ears. Everything else became white noise. He sighed a sigh of relief.
Molly blinked back into existence. Her peripheral vision had caught a glimpse of an assortment of moving images happening on a screen nearby, pausing momentarily her trancelike state. Between the snap back to reality and her lack of sleep, she was unable to recognize her surroundings. She looked around, feeling being placed somewhere she had never been before: a dark white room with outmoded pin-ups all over instructing how to duck and cover. There was a skeleton made of popsicle sticks and painted over in a haste. The floor beneath her dangling feet looked as if it hadn’t been mopped since 1962 and the resulting mold had been the one that decided the shape and stature of the room. The confusion was not mitigated when she found out she was looking at everything through a black and light filter.
Soon, however, her eyes found the kid next to her, shaking to his bones, his eyes flooding with tears, a fake smile trying to suppress the fear. He was watching a drawing on top of a yellowed-out piece of paper; a moving image. On closer inspection, she recognized the movement depicted to be similar to an episode of the Looney Tunes featuring Marvin the Martian. She liked Marvin the Martian. Molly kept on watching, the cartoon being soundtracked only by the shrieks on the office behind her back.
She’d seen this episode before, just not like that. It was not one of her favorites, but she distinctly remembered herself enjoying it on the multiple viewings. However, the lack of proper music and her inability to hear the characters talk, every second being metronome by a scream, either of pain or of anger, made the experience a slower one, as if she was being trapped inside a vortex alien to the flow of time. Without her noticing, the cogs inside her mind began turning. As they did, everything around her transmogriphied back into the modern versions of themselves she could pinpoint as known. But Molly didn’t notice, she was being enchanted by Marvin’s antics in outer space.
The episode concluded as the nurse was able to, finally, pick out the splinter. Silence overcame the scene. The kid, now as far away removed from his nervous breakdown as possible, smiled towards Molly. He offered her one of his earbuds.
“Want to watch another one with me?” he said.
Molly took the earbud in her fingers and dusted off the earwax left behind. As she got it closer and closer to her ear, the colors came back to her vision as the result of her mental cogs turning became apparent. An idea had been formed while she re-entered the present time. She let go of the earbud and smiled. She grabbed the kid by the shoulders, inadvertently putting pressure on the bruise he had created for himself about two hours ago, when he decided that going down the slide backwards was a good idea. He remembered the pain, tears coming back down his cheeks. She couldn’t notice.
“It’s obvious, don’t you get it?” she screamed. “I will make my own movie! I will be going to outer space! The answer was always in front of me!” Then, she kissed the kid on the forehead and ran away. More than confusion, she found out what his mom had always told him: a kiss from someone you love will always take the pain away.
To be continued...