It’s the moon. We’ve all seen the moon, right? While it may have different colors, sizes, phases, and brightness at different points throughout the year, the moon stays fairly consistent throughout the world. So how are so many depictions so far off the mark?
Perhaps it’s the moon’s wondrous, mystical quality that encourages us to give it a face, slap on a few more craters, or oversimplify the glowy orb. Who knows? But, hey, diddle diddle, do human beings sure love putting faces on stuff.
Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Isn’t it weird to think that within 67 years of this 1902 film, we actually landed on the moon? That being said, Le Voyage Dans La Lune has impacted artists’ imaginations and our culture as a whole. It also depicts a very … interesting … version of the moon.
Postcards from the Moon
In the pre-space era, some folks lovingly and jokingly sent postcards from the moon, like this one circa 1906. This theme has been repeated over and over, as in the somewhat-more-realistic Dreamworks logo.
Fire, Full Moon
The Loving Embrace of the Universe
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Yes, sure: This isn’t supposed to be “our” moon, but the moon of a fantasy world called Terminus, the cross-dimensional neighbor of Hyrule. But we’d be hard-pressed not to have a list about totally wacko moons without listing this very famous one from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (or its terrifying-to-twelve-year-olds, bone-chilling eyes).
Michal Friese, a contemporary German artist, makes amazing watercolor paintings that are artful, random, unpredictable, and beautiful. But they look nothing like the moon.
A Perfect Circle
Japanese painters loved painting the moon too, albeit strangely. While the rest of their paintings and illustrations are intrinsically, painstakingly detailed, several painters’ depictions of the moon remain bizarrely perfect, like the opposite of Friese’s depictions. Where are the craters, Ohara Koson?
Tarot cards are particularly at fault for many of our weird modern depictions of the faced moon, but this popular depiction really came from the Mexican card game, Lotería, which is famous for its unique illustrations. Now, it’s a popular tattoo of choice.
Mmm. Minimalist. This movie poster really captures it.
European history nerds flip out about the totally weird Nuremberg Chronicle from the 1490s. This depiction of the moon is not even close to the weirdest stuff in there (such as this guy right here), but it’s still worth noting since many of our man-face crescent moons date so far back.
What now?! I don’t know, Etsy artist Alissa Levy; you tell me! (Don’t be so demanding, jeesh. Also, we have confirmed with today’s technology that the moon is not made of bubblegum.)
Oh, good – more nightmare fuel. People of Portland, what were you thinking? Why would you put this abomination, called Mr. Moon, in a kids’ puppet show? Apparently, there is also a new Mr. Moon TV series for UK kiddies.
Another kids’ show, another bad moon … Sailor Moon’s artists had to draw a lot of moons in a very short period of time, so it’s hard to pick on these animators without feeling guilty. Granted, sometimes the moon forms an “(” shape sometimes it forms a “C” shape, but when, if ever, is the crescent moon this strangely curved, besides during eclipses?
Me and the Moon
Ode to the Bright Moon
Did we miss an off-putting moon from a piece of art, book illustration, anime, or movie that’s equally ridiculous? It was hard to pick which ones to include, especially when, apparently, most of the moons on our Christmas cards, Christmas gift wrap, Halloween illustrations, and many other depictions of children’s art are flat out wrong, according to scientist Peter Barthel. “The lack of knowledge concerning the physical origin of the moon phases, or lack of interest in understanding, is found to be widespread in The Netherlands but is also clearly present in the USA, and is quite possibly global,” his study says.
Check out this animation to see what the moon really looks like at all phases.
Of course, that’s the point: Art doesn’t have to stick close to representations to represent what it’s representing. Art is weird like that.