Google’s first VR Doodle is a glorious animated story of love and magic in honour French illusionist Georges Méliès

Today’s Google Doodle is a magnificent celebration of both the trailblazing French illusionist Georges Méliès and the company’s Spotlight Stories, through the use of VR and 360-degree video.

 Back to the Moon is the first interactive Google Doodle of its kind and is a beautifully illustrated story starring an illusionist, the Queen of Hearts and an evil green man as they take a journey through “early cinema, film magic and love”. It has been created to mark the anniversary of film director Méliès’s silent film À la conquête du pôle (The Conquest of the Pole)released on this day in 1912, and was a joint project between Google Spotlight Stories, Google Arts & Culture, and Cinémathèque Française.

In a blog post explaining the work, Google said: “Georges Méliès transformed the world of cinema (and our lives!) more than a century ago. What a pleasure it has been to discover the immensity of the work and legacy he left behind through hundreds of film! He saw film and cameras as more than just tools to capture images. He saw them as vehicles to transport & truly immerse people into a story.

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“Méliès brought magic to filmmaking through dozens of tricks and illusions. What better way to pay homage to this then by using one of the most innovative and immersive tools we have for storytelling today: virtual reality!”

You can watch the 360-degree video without a headset below, but to enjoy the full beauty of the interactive Doodle, we advise watching it via the Google Spotlight Stories app, available on Google Play or in the App Store, using Google’s Cardboard or Daydream headset. We also suggest watching it a number of times as you won’t catch all of the details in just one viewing. 

Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès was born in Paris on December 8, 1861 and was an illusionist, magician and film director. He was said to be fascinated by puppets and tricks as a boy. He got into film in 1895 after witnessing one of the first public appearances of the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph. 

Méliès threw himself into the art and built a film studio on his family property in Montreuil complete with dressing rooms for actors, set storage, trapdoors, and light filtering equipment. In 1902, in what Google called “one of Méliès’ most prosperous years,” he made A Trip to the Moon, one of his most well-known productions, drawing inspiration from the likes of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, fairground amusements, and operettas. Filming reportedly took months, a vast amount of funding and the finished film measured a staggering 853ft, lasting 13 minutes and covering 30 scenes.

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