I was using Google at work the other day and noticed the doodle that sits at the top of the screen was somehow familiar. It was an image of a rocket stuck in the distraught face of the moon. It didn’t look exactly right, so it took me a moment to recognise it was a homage to the Georges Méliès film, Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip To The Moon). Clicking on the icon, gave me a page all about Méliès and Google’s tribute to the man who brought magic and wonder to the cinema screen at the turn of the 20th Century.
It was captivated, much in the same way that I was watching Hugo.
Georges Méliès, was a French film director and illusionist who made many films after seeing the Lumiere Brothers’ film of a train arriving at a station. He experimented with super imposing, cross dissolves and even colour by hand painting frame by frame. His fantastical stories, sometimes influenced by Jules Verne, were an inspiration to filmmakers then and today, laying down the foundation for special effects and fantasy filmmaking. Sadly, as audiences were becoming hardened by images of the first world war, his work fell from favour and he was forced to sell his homemade film studio and his film was rumoured to be melted and used as soles for soldier boots. A great of his work was lost, until some were rediscovered and he finally had the recognition he deserved towards the end of his life.
Google have taken a influences from many of his films and turned them into a 2D animation and a VR experience using either Daydream or Google Cardboard. It’s stunning to watch and I think it’s fantastic that they have celebrated such a pivotal character in cinema history. They have even created an exhibition containing a number photos I haven’t seen and posted it on their Arts & Culture site. I can really only applaud Google to carrying out this work. The point is, they didn’t need to, it doesn’t earn them anything, but they did anyway.