A Trip to Mars dir. Ashley MillerBracket Record:Winner's Bracket:
Edison Manufacturing Company
- Round 2 bt. Im Wannseebad
- Round 3 bt. The Two Roses
- Round 4 bt. Twelfth Night
- Round 5 lost to The History of a Butterfly: A Romance of Insect Life
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np7VImsSMQM#no
- Round 9 lost to The White Slave Trade
- there are several copies on YouTube, unfortunately the film has not survived that well.
A mad scientist who wears a dinner jacket in the laboratory rather than the customary lab coat, discovers the secret of anti-gravity by mixing the powedered contents of several bottles. This enables him to anti-gravitate his way to Mars where he has several hallucinatory, and just plain weird experiences. The ending is revolutionary. I expect those bottles contained crystallised-absinthe cut with cocaine.
This is predominately a special effects film that follows the template of Georges Méliès famous 1903 'A Trip to the Moon', only with none of the style and panache of the earlier film. The one area that this film succeeds is the sheer creepiness of the Martian inhabitants. Giants with motives that are opaque to us watching, although it's clear were meant to see them as malevolant. The snowball-smoke-blowing giant with large ears and an egg for head is demonic, but it's the trees with a canopy formed from bark-encrusted overweight men that pressed my nightmare-buzzer first. Truly macabre.
Most of the sequences in this involve one special effect or another, and the effects themselves are well-done for the most part. Some of them we just don't see now as we take the effect for granted, but it must have been a relatively impressive thing to do to make the image spin through 360°, speeding up as it did so. The problem with all these effects is why? Why are they there? The results we see on screen are just not impressive or interesting, except for the Martians. The plot itself is simple. It's not so much a case of the effects supporting a story so much as cobbling together a story to show of the special effects. Some would say little has changed in the previous 107 years. This is first US-produced sci-fi film. It's an indication as to the priorities of productions to come for this genre. If this was the first sci-fi story seen on film, I might have been somewhat more forgiving however, Méliès was way ahead of this eight years previously. Notes on the Vanquished:
- The Double. You can tell a plot if over-complicated when it takes longer to read the Moving Picture World synopsis than it does to watch the film. A complex tale of war with Spain, doppelgangers, drinking, driving, romantic hangovers and romance during hangovers all done in 11 minutes. No director noted, but this is the first Independent Moving Pictures Company of America film to pop up.
- Im Wannseebad is the first German film, which is simply about life on a German beach with real people who play up for the camera.
- The Two Roses is refined melodrama from the Thanhouser Film Corporation featuring tragedy and mistaken identity. Again a lot of plot for 10 minutes running time.
- Lastly Twelfth Night is another Shakespeare, this one by Eugene Mullin and Charles Kent and Vitagraph. Theatrical staging and something of an ego-trip for Charles Kent, playing Malvolio though they do shoe-horn in much of the plot.