(The Astronomer’s Dream; The Man in the Moon)
- Director: Georges Méliès
- Year: 1898
- Runtime: 3m
- Available on Archive.org
This movie is absurd in the best possible way.
It features satan, goddesses, child clowns, an evil moon, slapstick, puppetry, and practical effects.
I love it.
None of it makes any sense. The moon is a chomping machine that eats the astronomer’s telescope. Child clowns get spat out and thrown back in the moon’s gaping maw. Things disappear for no reason other than to thwart the astronomer.
And at the end of it all, the astronomer is dismembered before having his limbs spat out by the moon one by one. This gradually reconstructs him and then the fairy queen arrives to attach his final arm and bring him back to life.
The astronomer’s movements are big and frantic and theatrical. The moon is huge and relentless and creepy. The whole thing moves at a breathtaking pace. It’s manic, random, explosive, and absolutely delightful.
It’s another movie that reminds me of TikTok, where people experiment with this kind of surreal short film format (I’m thinking particularly of the excellent Savanah Moss). It’s pleasing to see this kind of art being rediscovered by a new generation.
Lumiére initially refused to sell Méliès one of his cameras, treating it as a delicate scientific instrument and not something that should be used for such…frivolity.