a professional magician by training, [who] first saw the new "moving pictures" in 1895. Little over a year later, Méliès was filming and projecting his own creations. By accident, he discovered that he could use stop-motion photography to render trick visual effects.
While shooting one of his life scenes in the Place de l'Opera in Paris, the camera jammed. It took about a minute to clear the problem and resume shooting. When the film was processed and screened, Méliès saw a bus suddenly turn into a hearse; people in the scene suddenly appeared or disappeared. This accident led to his discovery of stop motion trickery which became his first filmic special effects technique. This stop motion technique had previously been discovered and used by Edison, but Méliès made extensive use of it in his short films.
Still, Méliès, trained in classic eighteenth century theater, conceived all of his films in terms of fully played-out scenes. Unable to keep up with the changing industry, the end of his life was wrought with poverty, yet his films would be monumental stepping stones for great auteurs such as D.W. Griffith.
After finishing work on the film, Georges Méliès intended to release it in America and thereby make lots of money. Unfortunately, Thomas A. Edison's film technicians had already secretly made copies of the film, which was showed across the USA within weeks. Méliès never made any money from the film's American showings, and went broke several years later (while Edison made a fortune on the film.)
In 2002, a print of the film was discovered in a barn in France. It was amazing in that not only is it the most complete cut of the film, but it was entirely hand-colored. The film was restored and premiered at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival the following year.
Composed of around 30 scenes (or individual "skits") without any dialog and/or closeups. Melies listed them almost like modern DVD chapters in his Star Films catalog.
At a meeting of astronomers, one proposes to the rest a trip to the Moon. After addressing some dissent (the speaker pitches some paper at him), six brave astronomers agree to the plan. They build a space capsule in the shape of a bullet and a huge cannon to shoot it into space. The astronomers embark and their capsule is fired from the cannon with the help of a bevy of beautiful women (played by chorus girls of the Folies Bergères). The Man in the Moon watches the capsule as it approaches, and it hits him in the eye.
Safely on the Moon, the explorers get out of the capsule and watch the Earth rise in the distance. Something then explodes near them. They then unroll their blankets, and take a nap. They dream of celestial Folies-Bergères girls as the stars of the Big Dipper, Saturn, and another Moon, who call down a snowfall that wakens the explorers. The explorers seek shelter in a cavern and discover giant mushrooms. One astronomer opens his umbrella; it promptly takes root and turns into a giant mushroom itself. At this point, a Selenite (an alien inhabiting the Moon, apparently part man and part insect) appears, but it is easily killed by an astronomer (the creatures explode if whacked with a stick or umbrella). More Selenites appear and it becomes increasingly difficult for the explorers to destroy them as the creatures surround them. The Selenites arrest the astronomers and bring them to their leader. An astronomer picks the Chief Selenite up off its throne and dashes it to the ground, exploding it.
The astronomers run back to their capsule (popping pursuing Selenites on the way). Five get inside. The sixth uses a rope to tip the capsule over a ledge on the Moon and into space. A Selenite tries to seize the capsule at the last minute. Astronomer, capsule, and Selenite fall through space and land in an ocean on Earth, where all are rescued by a ship and towed ashore.
There is in fact a final scene of the film in which there is a celebratory parade in honor of the travellers' safe return. Parts of the final scene have been recovered but the entire scene has been lost.