"Voyage dans la Lune"
Directed by George Melies
In “Voyage dans la Lune”, director Georges Melies uses a number of editing techniques to inform the audience about how time is constructed in his picture. Melies utilizes linear chronology, cuts, and dissolves to construct time in Voyage dans la Lune. One clip from the film, the launch of the professor’s shell to the moon, reflects all three of these techniques.
Unlike Eisenstein and his use of montage to infer meanings by utilizing multiple perspectives, Melies uses editing to establish continuity and to create a linear chronology. The sequencing of the scenes in the clip occurs in chronological order: the women put the shell in the gun, the shell is launched into space, and the shell lands on the moon where the professors disembark to explore the new planet. By putting these scenes in chronological order, Melies establishes how the time in his film flows. By following the trip from start to finish, the audience is able to understand that they are watching these events in chronological succession, establishing the flow of time as linear.
Melies continues to establish time by his use of editing. Melies only includes one cut in his scenes— at the end. He uses these cuts to indicate to the audience that the characters are now in a new place and that time has passed. The cut explains to the viewer that the previous scene is over and a new scene, in a new location at a new time, is now happening. By editing the scene this way, Melies limits the risk of the audience being confused about where and when the characters are in the story.
Similarly, Melies uses dissolves to help indicate to the viewer that time has passed since the last scene. In this clip, Melies uses a dissolve when the scene transfers from the shell launch to it landing on the moon’s face. The dissolve tells the viewer that much time has passed since the shell was launched. The dissolve helps the audience understand that the two moments do not happen concurrently; things happen and time passed in between the scenes that the audience doesn’t see. Melies lets the audience know with the dissolve that time has been compressed and it is now much later in the story.
Through the use of linear chronology, cuts, and dissolves, Georges Melies establishes the flow of time within his film “Voyage dans la Lune”.