The Prelinger Archive
But why, some say, the moon?
ghost_lingering, your notes were great, and not at all intimidating. I thought about them a lot when I was making this, especially given some of the problematic aspects of Voyage dans la Lune (as with any text from another era). I've focused on celebrating the groundbreaking special effects Méliès gave us, which is what you focused on too, so I hope it works for you. Thank you also for the comments about non-musical soundtracks, as I'd been wanting to play with that, and you gave me the perfect chance!
Main Visual Source: Le Voyage dans La Lune
Music: "Found Sounds" by Squad Car 37 Audio Productions and A Place to Be, edited and remixed by me with the Sounds of Neptune, John F. Kennedy's "Moon" speech, and excerpts of the Apollo moonshot audio recordings.
Content warnings: some bright flashes, some age spots, hand-held camera work, and a sharp dog-bark on the soundtrack.
(See the end of the work for more notes.)
The Prelinger Archive
I made this vid as a treat in the last few days before Go Live in the Spring Equinox 2017: Vids in Space! fest, as a way to break up my current batch of marking. Two things in particular attracted me to this source.
First, Méliès' work is still amazing, and I learn something new about film and film making every time I remix older sources - they had so many restrictions placed on them due to the technology of the day, and yet what they produced is amazingly robust given that. The challenge working with Méliès' films was mostly because the versions I had access to are quite degraded, and so I had to find a balance between my use of new technologies like stabilisation and a sense of authenticity. I could have stabilised and cleaned the source a lot more than I did, but I wanted to keep the feeling of a hand-held camera and some of the artifacts of age. I did actually do some pretty heavy filtering and stabilisation, because I find very shaky stuff makes me sea-sick, but it was interesting deciding when to stop. Hopefully, if I did it right, you can't even tell that all that stuff has been done. I find it amusing how much of effective storytelling in every medium is invisible technical work that you hope your readers/viewers don't notice. It's the same in writing, but I'm still very much learning how to do it in vidding.
Second, ghost_lingering was open to a non-musical soundtrack, and I've wanted to play around more with sound for some time. I nearly always do some work on the soundtrack of my vids -- hopefully usually invisible -- but this was a chance to be more obvious. I didn't have time to construct the whole soundtrack myself (a challenge for another day!), but editing the track and adding in the ambient space sounds, and soundbites from the Kennedy speech and NASA moonshot recordings was a lot of fun. It made me really think about the historical interplay between art, science, and ambition, and the way the discourse/dreaming about space began long, long before it was turned into part of the Cold War. The sheer inventiveness dreams of space inspire is also fascinating to me. We owe so much of our current way of life to early film-makers and the space program, including a bunch of our current media technology.
The final interesting thing about this project, at least to me, was something I didn't end up engaging with -- how racist and sexist Le Voyage dans La Lune is to my postmodern eyes. One of the reasons I decided to cut in other Méliès films (apart from being cool, always an important reason!) is it meant I could avoid valorising the racist "subdue the Moon natives" narrative at the end of the film. I did wonder if I could make a vid that explored that aspect in a more critical way, but once I started seriously thinking about it, I realised it wasn't something I could really do as a treat, in the time I had. It demands an exploration of multiple other sources as well, I think (like Avatar, just for a start). I also couldn't see any way to celebrate the genuinely amazing aspects of Méliès' work while taking that more critical view. So... a worthwhile project, but not the path I ended up taking here.
If you have any questions or other comments about this vid, you can also find me over on Dreamwidth: http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/426304.html
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