Today, I’ve a bit of a Steampunk history lesson for all of you who may be interested in proto-Steampunk works.
A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French black and white silent science fiction film. It is based loosely on two popular novels of the time: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells. And while the film obviously came out a long time before Steampunk was even a concept, the film is a mashup of the two most referenced proto-Steampunk writers.
So to explore our roots, let’s watch Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon. As a History major (among other things) I think it’s important to know where Steampunk came from, so we may better understand our present.
A Trip to the Moon was named as one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice, ranking in at #84. (For all you film junkies, you can see the complete list here). Also, if you find yourself interested in the beginnings of film making and would like to see more, there is an excellent DVD collection of entire films (read, not just clips) called Landmarks of Early Film. It’s an essential compendium of early cinematography for anyone interested in film.
H.G. Wells, along with Jules Verne, is one of the most influential writers not only for modern Steampunk, but also for science fiction in general. Where would we be without such classics as The Time Machine or The Invisible Man?
Through the course of the average American’s high school education, a student will be lucky to read one of Wells’ groundbreaking stories. I know that my familiarity with these stories came only through my own independent reading, despite that I enjoyed placement in the highest level English language and literature classes. Wells and Verne were, quite simply, not a priority to my instructors.
To remedy this situation, I am recommending a leather bound presentation of Well’s seven novels for your reading pleasure. This tome contains The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, War of the Worlds, First Men In the Moon, Food of the Gods and In the Days of the Comet.
Happy reading, everyone! These stories will be sure to provide a wonderful escape on a summer afternoon.
Occasionally, Hulu hosts full length videos for your viewing pleasure. Yesterday’s post that mentioned The Island of Doctor Moreau reminded me of the fact that Hulu is presently hosting the 1977 version of The Island of Doctor Moreau on their website.
Like most of Hollywood’s interpretations of books, the movie is nothing like the book. It’s the weekend, however, and there’s nothing quite like an old film presentation of a Steampunk classic to round out the weekend.
Because WordPress is picky with what videos they will allow me to embed in my blog, I will have to direct you to Hulu to watch the film. The good news is that you can watch in full screen from there. Be sure to disable your screen saver, though!