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The Morning GIF: “A Trip to the Moon”

This 1902 film spawned the whole absurdist subgenre of sci-fi. 


Lorraine Murphy


Posted on Mar 19, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 7:55 pm CDT

Here at the Daily Dot, we swap GIF images with each other every morning. Now we’re looping you in. In the Morning GIF, we feature a popular—or just plain cool—GIF we found on Reddit, Canvas, or elsewhere on the Internet.

Geek Chic has always been with us. Proof: this set of hand-painted moving images from professional magician turned filmmaker George Méliès’ 1902 movie A Trip to the Moon. The first known science fiction film, it caused a sensation, spawned conspiracy theories, and nearly bankrupted its maker when American scofflaws, including Thomas Edison, made and commercially released unauthorized copies in the U.S.

The colorized version was released contemporaneously with the black-and-white one but was considered lost until rediscovered in 1993. Restoration took 17 years, but the repaired version debuted at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is now available as a DVD and on YouTube.

This set of four GIFs come from the historically focused Unhistorical Tumblr, where it’s received 4,984 notes—proving culture is not quite dead yet.

The series depicts the spaceship loading and its launch (accompanied by a troupe of “Marines” with a suspicious resemblance to bathing beauties), the moon landing, and finally the trippy, mushroom-enhanced first encounter with a moon inhabitant, a “Selenite,” who explodes in a cloud of green gas when conked with an umbrella.

It may not be a triumph of subtlety, but here we can see the nonlinear, boletian roots that later grew into Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (adapted from a 1907 William Hope Hodgson short story), which itself was adapted and became Gilligan’s Island, and spawned the whole absurdist subgenre of sci-fi, up to and including pretty much every movie ever featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.



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*First Published: Mar 19, 2012, 10:15 am CDT