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Web Animation / Back To The Moon

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Starring a pioneer of cinema techniques a century ago, and a pioneering cinema technique of the modern day.

The Google Doodle, Google Spotlight Stories, Google Arts & Culture, & Cinémathèque Française teams have collaborated to create the first-ever Virtual Reality (VR) / 360° interactive Doodle to celebrate the life and artistry of French illusionist and film director Georges Méliès. Produced by Nexus Studios.
Official description on Google Spotlight Stories' YouTube page

Back To The Moon is a two-minute CGI animated short co-produced by Google Spotlight Stories, Cinémathèque Française, and Nexus Studios as Google's first ever virtual reality Google doodle. Celebrating the life and work of legendary filmmaker and illusionist Georges Méliès, it was released on May 3, 2018, the 106th anniversary of the release of one of his greatest cinematic masterpieces, “À la conquête du pôle” ("The Conquest of the Pole") in 1912. The short stars caricatures of both Georges himself (in numerous roles) and his love interest (and real-life wife), Jehanne d’Alcy, partaking in a fantastical, 360-degree adventure of spectacle, love, and cinematic magic.

The full Google Doodle VR experience is available on mobile, Cardboard, or Daydream via the Google Spotlight Stories app, and can also be viewed without a headset as a 360° video (here) on the Google Spotlight Stories YouTube Channel. Google's article about how the film was made can be found here.


Back To The Moon contains examples of:

  • Battle Couple: Georges and Jehanne work together to emerge victorious over the former's Evil Twin.
  • Deface of the Moon: An homage to Georges' use of this trope shows up at the end, though the moon itself is ultimately okay with it.
  • Eye Scream: Once again, The Man in the Moon gets nailed in the eye by a space capsule.
  • Evil Twin: One of Georges' dopplegangers plays an Obviously Evil figure in a green costume, who kidnaps Jehanne and tries to make her his own.
  • The Face of the Sun: Georges impresses Jehanne by inflating a pearl with a face on it he recovered from the underwater sequence to form this.
  • Funny Background Event: When Georges floods the entire room in a nod to his technique of filming one scene over another - in a prototype of modern green-screening - turning the camera angle around to look at his backup musicians and projectionist shows them panicking and struggling for air before the water recedes.
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  • Homage: The entire short is one big love-letter to Georges' work, featuring plenty of loving references to his designs, film techniques, and innovations in cinematic storytelling.
  • Invisible Backup Band: Actually, it's a *visible* backup band made of multiple copies of Georges, whom the man himself brings out to play the background music early in the short.
  • Iris Out: Notable as an example in a 360-degree film - if the camera faces the moon at the end, the room fades to black starting from directly behind the camera and moving towards the viewer's direction.
  • The Man in the Moon: A stylized poster of A Trip to the Moon can be seen as a background element, and becomes the actual moon in the end - just in time for the space capsule Georges and Jehanne are riding in to hit him in the eye a second time.
  • Meaningful Release Date: The Google doodle was released on May 3, the release date of one of Georges' most famous masterpieces, The Conquest of the Pole.
  • Me's a Crowd: Aside from both Georges himself and Jehanne, every other character is a duplicate of Georges. This is an homage to Georges' technique of filming himself multiple times over the same film strip to give the illusion of being in many places at once, as demonstrated in L'Homme-Orchestre (The One-Man Band, 1900).
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Aside from a few vocal grunts from Georges and Jehanne, background music, and various sound effects, the short is entirely silent. Then again, of course, it's not like most films in Georges' day needed any dialogue in the first place.
  • Off with His Head!: Inverted when Jehanne helps save the day by using a giant black card to obscure the body of Georges' Evil Twin, causing his disembodied head to drop to the floor. This is a nod to Georges' method of placing a black cache right in front of the camera to give the illusion of elements disappearing, as seen in The Four Troublesome Heads (1898).
  • Oh, Crap!:
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Georges and Jehanne share a kiss while sitting on the moon at the end of the film, in reference to how their real-life counterparts eventually became husband and wife.
  • Stop Trick: Georges' use of this technique is homaged when he makes his Evil Twin vanish in a puff of smoke - which happened several times in in his actual films, including A Trip to the Moon.


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