On Sunday May 1 at 2:00 the Rogers Public Library will show Georges Melies A Trip to the Moon (1902) and H.G. Wells Things To Come (1936). Science Fiction Literature is only limited by the author’s imagination and the author’s ability to communicate his ideas to his readers however Science Fiction Movies not only have to have imagination and be entertaining, but they also have to have believable special effects that can put the imagination and wonder of Science Fiction onto film. These two movies are landmarks in special effects.
Georges Milies was the most important innovator in early cinema. He pioneered many of the methods that would come to be known as special effects such as stop action, split screen, slow and fast motion, in addition to traditional trompe l’oeil set design. Melies was a Parisian theater producer who produced fantastic magic shows and became fascinated with motion pictures and their potential. He bought and adapted cameras and built his own back yard studio. He made over 500 films between 1896 and 1912 and has to be considered the first great movie producer and one of the greatest special effects artist of all time. The Library will show his film A Trip to the Moon (1902) to begin the RPL Sci-Fi movie marathon.
Georges Melies was not a Science Fiction movie producer per se, he made wondrous and visually enchanting films with simple story lines to showcase a new technology but by WWI his movies seemed quaint and old fashioned compared to the grittier faster paced and more realistic movies of American Cinema. Science Fiction did not exist as specific genre in either Literature or film until 1926. With the exception of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and Woman in the Moon (1929) which are two major films dealing with traditional Science Fiction story lines, most pre 1950 Science Fiction movies are horror films with Science Fiction elements, usually based on major literary works such as Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Island of Doctor Moreau.
One very important exception to the lack of Science Fiction cinema before Destination Moon (1950) is H.G. Wells Things to Come (1936). Things to Come is the second part of our Science-Fiction Movie Marathon on May 1. H.G. Wells was an important ‘Science Romance’ author whose four SF novels became the inspiration for much of what became known as Science Fiction. H.G. Wells not only wrote the novel Things to Come but he also wrote the screenplay and was very involved in the film’s production. Things to Come utilized state of the art special effects from matte painting and model designs to split screens optical printing and rear projection. The sheer amount of special effects in this movie were unprecedented for a Pre-Golden Age of Science Fiction movie. Things to Come was also very innovative for Science Fiction movie sub-genres to come. It introduced the Post Apocalypse film to movie goers and it was the precursor of the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ when plagues of ‘Walking Sickness’ brings about the final calamity that causes the collapse of civilization. Ultimately what makes Wells film fascinating is that it articulates the conflict at the core of all socially conscious Science Fiction, which is the conflict between humanity’s need for comfort and safety and humanity’s desire for discovery. It asks the age old question about human and technology, “Is the quest for fire worth risking the wrath of the gods?”