A Trip to the Moon (1902) / The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Capsule Reviews

A Trip to the Moon (1902): gave birth to the narrative film, magical editing, and special effects

Before “A Trip to the Moon (1902),” films were concise, less than a minute, usually short skits to showcase the marvel of the camera, like “The Arrival of a Train” (first projected moving picture to the audience). Lumière brothers, Robert W. Paul, George Albert Smith, and many pushed the film’s boundary by new techniques like panning and tilt shots, double exposure, and making movies more than a minute. Director of “A Trip to the Moon” Georges Melies, a former magician known for creating masterful editing techniques and powerful effects, directed more than a hundred short skits.

In 1902, Georges Melies released his masterpiece “A Trip to the Moon (1902),” which changed the film history. The story follows a group of astronomers who go on a voyage to the moon. They build a rocket that resembles a large bullet, hitting the moon in the eye, the five astronomers reach the moon. Witnessing Earthrise in the distance, they are soon captured by the moon’s alien inhabitants. It’s not the sci-fi you would expect to see; it’s more like a fantasy fairy tale. Considering 1902 people only saw documentary-style skits, seeing a story for the first time on screen for them would be a breath-taking experience. The thirteen-minute movie everyone thought was impossible at the time inspired many filmmakers to make a film narratively and visually.

I was incredibly fascinated to see how this movie was made in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo (2011)” homage to silent film, surrounding filmmaker Georges Melies. Georges Melies brought life to his imagination with the immaculate trick editing, revolutionary decorated settings, and costumes. Like the iconic shot seen in the poster, rocket hitting the moon, Georges Melies whole bag of tricks merged deeply with film history.

Conclusion: The magician turned filmmaker Georges Melies and his ground-breaking “A Trip to the Moon (1902)” gave birth to the narrative film, magical editing, and special effects. Worth seeing for movie history enthusiasts and film lovers. My rating 8/10.

Director:  Georges Méliès
Cast: Georges Méliès, Victor André, Bleuette Bernon 
Genre:  Short, Action, Adventure

The Grapes of Wrath (1940): A stunning moving tale about an unfortunate farmer’s migration

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time. It tells the story of a farmer’s family, who were forced to move from their own farm to California, where they struggle to survive. After serving four years in prison, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) returns to his home, only to find out all the villagers are forced to evacuate from their farm and home where they lived for generations. The large Joad family of twelve heads to California in search of work.

Along with Jim Casy (John Carradine), an ex-preacher who lost his faith. The dreadful trip unmercifully takes lives and breaks the family leaving eight when they reach the destination. The migrants were uninvited in California by locals, and brutal police hassled and harassed them. The Joads, like many other families, struggle to feed themselves in the painful times of The Great Depression.

The movie is based on the novel with the same name written by John Steinbeck, which won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is a tense melodrama, but the compelling screenplay represents whole classes of people rather than individuals. It may take place in the 1930s of America. However, the story still resonates in many countries like India, the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP, where thousands of farmers suicide yearly, and middle-class workers are struggling to live.

Without a doubt, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is the best John Ford’s non-western movie. It Nominated for seven Oscars; John Ford’s won his third Oscar for his true-to-life direction for this film. Jane Darwell claimed her Oscar for Ma Joad, mother of Tom Joad, who is determined to keep the family safe and together. Henry Fonda, perfect casting for Tom Joad as who is hot-headed, is trying to survive in a world. Cinematographer Gregg Toland uses long shots to display background moments capturing the essence of the character’s struggle, along with the poverty of the era. The production design brilliantly recreated the environment of great depression.

Conclusion: A stunning moving tale about an unfortunate farmer’s migration from The Greatest Depression-era: Director John Ford and his production team went as far as possible in the 1930s, and Henry Fonda is outstanding. My rating 8/10.

Director: John Ford

Cast: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine 

Genre: Drama, History

(Thanks for reading)

Leave a Reply