In honor of Moon, opening today, we went kinda loony (get it?) coming up with our favorite lunar scenes in film and TV. (We restricted the list to our own planet's moon; sorry, Saturn and Endor fans.) Watch them here.
Le voyage dans la lune (1902)
French cinema pioneer Georges Méliès' silent classic is generally considered the first great sci-fi film, with the first great indelible image in movies, of the rocket ship hitting the moon smack in the eye. With his tale of scientists who shoot a rocket from a cannon to the lunar surface, where they meet hostile aliens, Méliès knew he had a hit; alas, Thomas Edison pirated the movie and made a mint from it in America before Melies could taste that sweet overseas box office. Watch the whole silent film below; it's only eight minutes.
Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
The early 1950s saw a spate of movies built around lunar expeditions. This is one of the silliest — and, in the right light, the most fun. Did you know that there were giant spiders on the moon, or that in lunar caves the air is breathable enough to take off your space mask? The tale of a race of hot chicks on the moon planning to take over the earth has been parodied often, most notably in 1987's Amazon Women on the Moon (which often apes this film shot for shot), but for campy laughs, it's hard to top the original.
2001: A Spacy Odyssey (1968)
It's hard to come up with enough praise for the lunar segment of Stanley Kubrick's mind-expanding space opera. Plotwise, very little happens, save for the discovery of the monolith on the moon that sends Dave Bowman hurtling toward destiny But oh, those visuals! Even while trying to depict commercial space flight as an ordeal as mundane as airline travel, Kubrick still makes it look graceful and lovely. Same thing on the moon's surface, where eerie quiet coexists with beautiful desolation.
Space: 1999 (1975-77)
The whole series (shot in Britain for ITV and syndicated in America) took place on the moon, though not in our solar system. The premise of the show saw the moon sent careening out of earth's orbit and into deep space after a nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon exploded (oops!), leaving the crew of Moonbase Alpha to fight for survival in hostile encounters with strange creatures. The season 2 opening credits told the story economically, as you can see.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
Terry Gilliam's overstuffed fantasy did have one minimalist sequence: its trip to the moon. That's because the production ran out of money, so Gilliam's plan for a vast set and a cast of thousands was canceled. Instead, Gilliam settled for a cast of five and a lunar city that consisted of little more than the former Monty Python animator's production sketches shuffled about. The changes worked, however, resulting in an austere yet enchanting sequence in which the human characters encounter the king and queen of the moon, two giants with detachable heads. As the jealous king, Robin Williams brings his usual bagful of crazy, but just imagine the sequence if Gilliam's first choice, Sean Connery hadn't bailed when the money got tight.
A Grand Day Out (1989)
The short that introduced the world to Wallace & Gromit (and to claymation king Nick Park) features a wonderfully daffy story that has the tweedy inventor and his silently suffering dog building a rocket in their basement in order to fly to the moon to satisfy their jones for cheese. This 20-minute short is as brilliant and hilarious as the rest of the Wallace & Gromit tales, and if you haven't seen it, or can't remember the unique nature of the creature our heroes meet on the moon, you must watch now.
Space Cowboys (2000)
Clint Eastwood's adventure about four oldtimers — NASA also-rans who didn't quite have the right stuff — who get another chance to blast off as seniors is a surprisingly sentimental story. But the finale, in which an ill-fated member of Clint's team finally gets his wish to reach the moon, gives the movie an unexpectedly lyrical and moving final shot.
The Time Machine (2002)
This update of the H.G. Wells story (and the 1960 George Pal film) isn't that great (even if it was directed by H.G.'s great-grandson, Simon Wells), but it's on this list for its striking sequence of lunar destruction. Time traveler Guy Pearce learns that, in the early 21st century, we sent demolition teams to level the lunar landscape in order to build condos on the moon, and, well, we broke it. D'oh! Watching the moon crumble over the heads of panicky earthlings is an awesome and horrifying sight.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Given God-like powers, Jim Carrey emulates Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life, except his ability to lasso the moon to give it to his gal is literal. Who wouldn't swoon the way Jennifer Aniston does to see such a magnificent moon, almost close enough to touch? Unfortunately, Carrey learns the next day, his moon-yanking stunt caused tidal waves in Asia. Gravity's a bitch.
Bruce And Grace Romantic Evening - The funniest movie is here. Find it
During the revisionist-superhero saga's celebrated opening-credits montage, there's a brief moment that pays homage to a celebrated urban legend. When Neil Armstrong lands on the moon, Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) is already there, taking his picture. Armstrong can be heard saying, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!" It's a reference to the old joke (which some believe came from an actual Armstrong utterance), in which Armstrong supposedly followed up his boffo "That's one small step for man..." line with a reference to something he'd heard a neighbor's wife say years before, that she wouldn't give her husband a blow job until the kid next door walked on the moon. Alas, it's not true. Armstrong never said it. Snopes says so.