The camouflaged political concerns in William Kentridge's landmark film "Journey to the Moon"




Garza, Michael Quinn

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This thesis contends that William Kentridge's Journey to the Moon(2003) is a critical film in his oeuvre. Kentridge is a South African artist best known for creating a riveting animated film series entitled Drawings for Projection(1989-2003) that directly engaged in a discourse concerning the arduous landscape of the South African Apartheid and post-Apartheid era.

Journey to the Moon operates essentially as the grand finale of a series titled 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès (2003). The Fragments series establishes two precedents from Kentridge's major antecedent works. All of the films in 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès visually omit any direct relationship with South Africa. Furthermore, Kentridge introduces direct film-footage of himself inserted as the protagonist for all but one of the films in the Fragments series. Consequently, the series appears to bypass Kentridge's typical political concerns, possibly reflecting the artist's desire to experiment beyond his customary filmic methods and strategies of visual meaning. However, probing investigation into Journey to the Moon reveals that these visual precedents operate merely as a masking of Kentridge's traditional conceptual trajectories.

Journey to the Moon camouflages Kentridge's unfaltering concern with the South African political and social landscape by constructing a narrative that simultaneously references Georges Méliès' Voyage dans la Lune (1902) and the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This thesis exposes how Kentridge's complex synthesizing of these two different references in Journey to the Moon constructs a surreptitious allegory that reflects his customary conceptual concerns while visually developing a film that is both methodically and stylistically unique to his oeuvre.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Georges Méliès Voyage Dans La Lune, Journey to the Moon, Orpheus and Eurydice, Palimpsest Montage Reconstruction, South African Politics Truth and Reconciliation Commission, William Kentridge



Art and Art History