Calling the Cannon-ball Into Existence

In his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne wrote, “If providence has created the stars and the planets, Man has called the cannon-ball into existence.” The universe, and humanity’s place in it, has captivated our imaginations and our understandings of who we are for as long as we can remember. One way this fascination with outer space has manifested itself over the last two centuries is through the science fiction genre. Since this year’s Summer Reading theme is “A Universe of Stories,” your library wants to celebrate this intersection of space exploration and stories by sharing some of the earliest examples of science fiction cinema.

On Monday evenings throughout June and July, we are showing vintage science fiction films from the 1950s and 60s that are free and open to the public. This Monday, June 10, we’ll begin the series with the first known sci-fi film, the 12-minute silent movie from 1902 called Le Voyage dans la Lune. All showings start at 6 p.m. with the exception of Planet of the Apes on July 15, which begins at 5:45 p.m. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper movie night without free popcorn!

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The schedule of films is below.

June 10 – Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902, 12 min) & Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959, 72 min)
Le Voyage is a French silent film by director Georges Méliès and one of the earliest known sci-fi films. Plan 9 from Outer Space is a classic B-movie by Ed Wood that features the last performance of Bela Lugosi before his death in 1956.

June 17 – When Worlds Collide (1951, 83 min)
Based on the 1932 science fiction novel by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, this film is about earth’s coming destruction by a rogue star and planet and the efforts to build a space ark for a small group of survivors.

July 1 – From the Earth to the Moon (1958, 100 min)
Based on the Jules Verne novel and set in 1868, this film features an inventor who creates a new explosive that he plans to use to fuel a spaceship to the moon.

July 8 – The Phantom Planet (1961, 83 min)
Featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, this film tells the story of a planet that miniaturizes people and giant aliens called “solarites.”

July 15 (Begins at 5:45 p.m.) – Planet of the Apes (1968, 112 min)
The original film in the popular science fiction franchise, it tells the story of a group of astronauts who crash-land on a planet where apes rule as the most advanced species and humans are pre-lingual and enslaved.

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For more information on Retro Sci-Fi Movie Mondays, email Lisa Krekelberg or call 423-434-4454. Visit www.jcpl.org, call 423-434-4450, or drop by 100 West Millard Street to learn more about and sign up for Summer Reading. And don’t forget to follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

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