Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Silent Film of Georges Méliès & Music Video of Smashing Pumpkins

So, this isn't really about documentary film but I thought it might be interesting to some of you.

One of my favorite music videos is the 1996 video for the Smashing Pumpkins song "Tonight, Tonight." I've watched this video at least a hundred times but it wasn't until our class discussion yesterday, where I learned of the 1902 silent film Le Voyage Dans La Lune by Georges Méliès, that I realized the two films share some some remarkable similarities. Of course, these similarities were completely intentional; the music video is essentially a remake of the classic silent film. I've posted both videos below so you can see for yourself. Can any of you think of an example of a film that was "remade" almost 100 years after the original? Are there any films being created today that you speculate may be remade 100 years from now? I admit that knowing the Pumpkin's music video was a reworking of the Méliès film makes me think of the Smashing Pumpkins music video as more of a pastiche work rather than as the original work of art that I had previously though it was. However, I can now see it as a well done homage of a groundbreaking earlier work.

Another interesting thing about watching those early films yesterday was seeing how quickly the different uses of film were explored. Beginning with The Horse in Motion (1878), film is being used to capture imperceptible moments during a horse's gallop to see if all four of the horse's legs leave the ground. In Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory (1895), film is perhaps used to document a little sliver of turn of the century working conditions. And in Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902), film is used to create an epic, imaginative, surrealistic, science fiction narrative film - complete with costumes, constructed sets, and special effects.

I find the human ingenuity behind all of this rather fascinating.

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