An Impossible Voyage (Voyage Travers L'Impossible) 1904

Director: Georges Méliès

Passports, please! In this follow-up of sorts to A Trip to the Moon, Méliès once again sends his team of explorers on a momentous expedition around the world . . . and beyond!

Professor Mabouloff (English = 'Scatterbrains'), President of the 'Institute of Incoherent Geography', proposes to his fellows a grand expedition, using every means of transport available. The travellers set off for the Swiss Alps, where the first leg of their journey sees their "Impossible Carriage" destroyed as it crashes into a mountain. The party is rescued and they resume their trip undeterred. With the aid of dirigibles, the train is launched into space from the top of Mt Jungfrau where it is promptly swallowed up by the sun. The travellers survive the sun's three-thousand degree heat and an escape back to the ocean depths of planet Earth, finally returning to a heroes' welcome in France.

Released on October the 29th, 1904, An Impossible Voyage continued the theme of Méliès' 1902 success A Trip To The Moon. It retained the earlier film's premise of putting a group of bumbling explorers through a series of fantastic adventures, while extending the narrative and adding yet more visual spectacle. Prof. Mabouloff (or Krisouloff, according to some sources) and his over-zealous party celebrate contemporary technological achievements while at the same time satirizing them.

Voyage Travers L'Impossible (literally, 'Voyage Across the Impossible') likewise pushed Méliès' resources and ingenuity to their limits. The film was more expensive to produce than Trip, and much longer: the most commonly-circulated prints ran to around twenty minutes, still exceptional in 1904. Méliès offered a twenty-four minute version of the film to exhibitors willing to pay an additional fee, and if money was really no object, a tinted print was also available, meticulously hand-coloured by one Mme. Thullier and her assistants.

All the whimsical touches that made Trip so enjoyable are here, but cranked up a notch. When before, the explorers crashed into the moon, the travellers and their train now fly to the sun and are swallowed whole. Chaos prevails throughout, as each successive mode of transport used by the voyagers is extravagantly destroyed. And when their submarine blows up at the finale, the explosion conveniently flings all the passengers to the safety of a French sea port, much to the alarm of the local sailors.

The production was once again created entirely inside the Montreuil studio, making extensive use of elaborate miniatures and intricately detailed sets. It was perhaps the most technically ambitious film Méliès produced until his final epic, The Conquest Of The Pole, in 1912.

End Credits:
Georges Méliès (Professor Mabouloff), Fernande Albany (Mme Latrouille), May De Lavergne (Nurse), Jeanne D'Alcy (Country Girl), et al.
Producer/Editor/Designer: Georges Méliès, loosely based on the play by Jules Verne and Adolphe D'Ennery
Star Film, France
Running Time 24 mins.

Georges Melies - First Wizard of Cinema (Flicker Alley)

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