Chomón’s Reply to Méliès

Le Voyage sur Jupiter
R: Segundo de Chomón. K: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé. Fr 1909
Supervision and special make-up effects: Ferdinand Zecca for Pathé
Print: Archivo Nacional de la Imagen – Sodre (Montevideo)
Music: Giovanni Piccardi (2017)

“After begining his career in Spain (see e.g. El heredero de Casa Pruna [The Heir of the Pruna House]), Segundo de Chomón worked for Pathé in Paris between 1906 and 1909, where he directed a number of trick films competing with those of Méliès and using the stencil coloured film process known as Pathéchrome that he had invented. A Trip to Jupiter, which is clearly inspired by Le Voyage dans la lune [A Trip to the Moon] directed by Méliès in 1902, is a good example of the films made by de Chomón during that period. It also shows how the cinematographic language had progressed since1902. The esthetics of the two films are very similar in a kind of a fantasised Middle-Ages style, the stories also follow broadly the same line: travel to space via an unlikely means,  fight with unfriendly natives and return to earth. However there are substantial  differences, in A Trip to the Moon, a team of scientists use a cannonball to travel to the moon where they destroy the local king before falling back to earth where they are officially celebrated after landing in the sea.  A Trip to Jupiter does not involve an actual space trip: a king who has watched a kind of film, presented to him by his astronomer, showing fantasy representations of the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter, observes the same representations through a telescope and when he goes to sleep dreams that he is climbing a ladder bringing him to the same planets. When he reaches Jupiter, he is captured by soldiers who bring him to the king of the planet, Jupiter himself, who strikes bolts of lightning at him and finally throws him out of the planet. The film then shows the same sets in reverse order to bring back the king ot his bed where he wakes up in great agitation. The film is composed of 33 shots organised in three scenes.”
A Cinema History

614 Chomón

“Chomòn uses more traditional sets than the two-dimensional almost surrealistic façades and matte paintings that Méliès used during the making of his legendary space films, and they are all extremely beautifully designed, as are all the props and costumes. The movie is partly filmed on location at an actual old castle, which gives it a gritty and majestic feel. The hand colouring of the prints in this film is also exquisitely made by Pathé’s army of women working at the company’s colouring factory. There is also a bit of camera genius when de Chomón describes the ladder to Jupiter. The climbing is all made in two single shots, with the camera moving upwards with the king for long stretches. This was achieved by laying out the stars and planets as large cutouts on the floor, the gods and goddesses looking like they are standing or sitting, but actually lying on their backs, and the king crawling vertically on the floor with the ‘ladder’ suspended beneath him. The camera is actually suspended from the ceiling and filming straight down. The effect is completely obvious, but clever nonetheless this was one of the very earliest tracking shots, and without doubt the most impressive tracking shot up until the major films by D.W. Griffith.”
Janne Wass: A Trip to Jupiter
scifist 2.0

>>> Segundo de Chomón