My son recently informed me that he wished to learn more about Fiction Science. “Science Fiction?”, I asked. “Yes, that!” After a few weeks of exploring what it was exactly he was interested in learning about Fiction Science we arrived at the request to see the first science fiction film. I imagine that there are other contenders out there, but Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune from 1902 is certainly a strong candidate.
Searching for the best version of A Trip to the Moon on the YouTubes is a daunting task. There are probably a few hundred there. Eventually I discovered a recently restored hand colored version that was quite remarkable. Further searching revealed the HD video embedded above, posted just hours ago. Watching it should erase whatever damage seeing various low-resolution, chopped down manglings of it you have been exposed to up until now.
A hand-colored print, the only one known to survive, was rediscovered in 1993 by the Filmoteca de Catalunya. It was in a state of almost total decomposition, but a frame-by-frame restoration was launched in 1999 and completed in 2010 at the Technicolor Lab of Los Angeles- and after West Wing Digital Studios matched the original hand tinting by colorizing the damaged areas of the newly restored black and white. The restored version finally premiered on 11 May 2011, eighteen years after its discovery and 109 years after its original release, at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a new soundtrack by the French band Air. It was released in North America by Flicker Alley as a 2-disc Blu-Ray/DVD edition, also including the documentary The Extraordinary Voyage about its restoration on 10 April 2012. Flicker Alley have also released the definitive five disk set of Méliès’ surviving films Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913 and the supplementary Méliès Encore.
Serge Bromberg, who co-directed The Extraordinary Voyage (Le voyage extraordinaire) for Lobster Films with Eric Lange is interviewed above.
This early trip to the moon featured prominently in Tom Hanks vision of the actual trips to the moon in the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, as seen above.
Georges Méliès got his greatest modern attention through the efforts of Martin Scorcese in his multiple Academy Award winning film of Brian Selznick’s illustrated book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Trailer above.