This fall, Alfonso Cuarón's much-anticipated follow up to Children of Men, Gravity, opened to nearly universal acclaim with many proclaiming that its groundbreaking use of 3D and CGI set a new standard for visual FX. Like other cinematic pioneers before him, Cuarón built upon a legacy of technological innovation to help him invent a new and enthralling way to tell a cinematic story. A long history of cinematic evolution paved the way for what Cuarón accomplished with his new feature; so, in the interest of placing Gravity's achievement in context, we will take a look back at the films that took those first few steps on the evolutionary road that would lead to Gravity: ten movies with mind-blowing FX that pushed the envelope. (Minor Spoilers)
10. A Trip To The Moon (1902)
French illusionist George Méliès gave the world its first special effects extravaganza with his 1902 film A Trip to The Moon. Méliès, a successful stage magician who is credited with creating over 30 unique illusions, fell in love with medium of film after attending a screening of The Grande Cafe in 1895. Méliès pursued his interest in film with unbridle enthusiasm, making 23 films alone in the year A Trip to the Moon was released. Méliès' films incorporated his background as an illusionist and usually left plot by the wayside; instead, Méliès focused on what illusions he could create using a camera, which lead to him coining never-before-seen special effects. A Trip to the Moon had a large budget for its time, 10,000 francs, and employed groundbreaking techniques like a pseudo-tracking shot that gave the appearance of the camera approaching an actor (in reality a pulley-operated chair pushed the actor toward the camera), an animated sequence (making it one of the first animated films ever made) and, decades before it would become the norm, colored prints. For a hundred years the hand-colored prints of A Trip to the Moon were believed lost until one was rediscovered in 1993 and painstakingly restored over nearly a decade, being released on Blu-ray in 2011. Méliès' film continues to influence filmmakers over a century after its release: Martin Scorsese's recent children's film, Hugo, featured Méliès as a main character and showed portions of the colorized version of A Trip to the Moon rendered in 3D.