Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New palette and score for first sci-fi epic "A Trip to the Moon"

Cinema pioneer and silver screen sorcerer George Méliès and his science fiction wonder Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) has been getting a lot of attention of late. Most recently, Méliès is portrayed by Sir Ben Kingsley in the Oscar nominated film Hugo by Martin Scorsese and so the real-life man and his work is having somewhat of a re-introduction to the world.

If you've not seen the Hugo, do make a point to go while it's still in theaters. Scorsese and Kingsley have crafted a beautiful love letter to early cinema and to the artist. I'm a movie nerd at heart, and while I've seen some of his films, it was a real thrill to see Méliès' imaginings and his movie-making secrets lavishly illustrated on the big screen.

More than a century after the film's 1902 debut, French electronica band Air, was asked to compose a score for a restored version of "Trip". The orignal was colorized (hand-tinted) by Méliès before the advent of color film. Black and white copies were easier and cheaper to make and over the years, the color versions were all thought to be lost. But a color print eventually was discovered. From The Guardian:
But that celebrated image was always black and white, as the colour version of the film was thought to be lost for ever until an anonymous collector handed a copy to the Filmoteca de Catalunya in Barcelona in the early 1990s. It was in such a poor state that it took eight years to restore before it was ready to be unveiled in public. Air only became aware of the rediscovered print when they were asked to create the soundtrack. "The first we heard of it was when they asked us to do it, because it was lost, destroyed. Nobody alive had seen it in colour," says Godin. "It was something that only a few specialists knew existed."

There was no original soundtrack, as films were silent. If there had been, Air say they would not have touched it. "If there was an original score, it would be horrible to make new music and destroy a piece of art," says Godin. "I would hate it if someone did that to one of my records. When a piece of art is done, it's done. But the fact that there was no original score was too good an opportunity to miss."
The full article goes into greater detail and I agree with their assessment, that the new music and brightened visuals lend a psychedelic quality to the story--and reveal a whole new depth of appreciation for the film's characters and design.

It's worth noting how remarkable the changes are in contrast to a black and white version of the film:

And now feast your eyes and ears on an excerpt of the newly restored version:

Full article at the Guardian via

1 comment:

  1. Cool! It will be great to see the whole thing. I agree, Hugo was a great film--particularly for fans of film history.