I'm not sure why I always assumed that the moon in Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902) was a man. It could be anyone under all that goo. I think it’s mostly because whenever I read about the movie, the writer would inevitably make that common reference to “the man on the moon.” But it isn’t a man, there’s a woman gamely performing in that mask of plaster (or whatever it is).
Her name is Bleuette Bemon (Bernon on the IMDB). Méliès recruited most of his performers from the stage, and he discovered her singing in a Parisian cabaret. In 1899, she made her film debut in Cendrillon (Cinderella), though I am not sure of her role (was she Cinderella?). According to the IMDB, she also appeared in Joan of Arc (1900), Bluebeard (1901) and Fairyland: A Kingdom of Fairies (1903). I wouldn’t be surprised if she appeared in more Méliès films, though I was not able to confirm this.
This is the one lead role that I was able to confirm, from Fairyland. She plays Aurora:
Whatever else Bemon did, there’s no doubt that playing the moon for a brief moment will be her claim to fame. It is remarkable the way that image has symbolized the early days of film for so many years. It continues to inspire admiration and awaken imaginations.
I was delighted to see my four-year-old daughter become fascinated by that moon, and the films of Méliès, as I prepared my posts for this week. I never get tired of her asking to see “the moon movie.” She also asks to see “some of the black and white ones.” Oh joy! This is by far the best thing that came out of this tribute. We had a little fun making our own cloudy sky and space ship and then taking turns playing the moon:
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