Georges Méliès: Satiric feminism


In my article "The Stars Might Be Smiling: A Feminist Forage into a Famous Film" (published in Fantastic Voyages of the Cinematic Imagination : Georges Méliès's Trip to the Moon, ed. Matthew Solomon, SUNY, 2011), I argue that the humor of Méliès's A Trip to the Moon  derives from the gendered comedy that his images set into play. 

Méliès not only proactively engaged with feminism, but he did so in a satirical and witty manner. Indeed, I note how in our focus on the tricks and magic of his film, we have lost much of his satire and biting commentary. 

In this article, I argue that the film shows women's public presence and the very labor of their "decorative art". The film also comically parodies women's irrelevance. This reminds us that decorative art was less about private retreat than it was about public agitation.

Occupying quotidian space in spectacular new ways, women engaged in the production of artistic meaning. The satire that they enacted, however, is a little different from the slapstick of the theater. This is the comedy of anachronistic desire, a humoring of the idea that even in the machine age, at a point at which technology was clearly related to the demands of the femme nouvelle, women were merrily (and merely) performing for a male audience.