Sunday, 17 February 2013

Restored Georges Méliès' 'The Trip to the Moon'

We always knew that a hand-colour-tinted sister reel of Méliès' 1902 masterpiece The Trip to the Moon existed. However, it was believed lost until 1993 when a decrepit copy was found.  The colour version was painstakingly restored and missing sections were replaced with frames from the monochrome print and re-tinted by hand. It was premiered in 2011 with a soundtrack by the French electronica band Air (shades, I think, of pop score to the 1984 release of Metropolis).

It's an engaging 15 minute piece that still stands up today thanks to some innovative sleight-of-hand camera trickery, wonderful trompe l'oeil sets and bonkers costumes. Even as a 'knowing' twenty first century viewer who can spot all the tricks a mile off, it still manages to thrill and excite.

What I really like about it is the way it reflects a time when some aspects of science were still akin to magic in the public mind. The astronomers who travel to the lunar surface look more like wizards. Their projectile transport is manned by 'marines' - actually chorus girls in dancers' leggings - who are akin to magicians' assistants. The Pleiades stars are personified as women, Greek gods look down upon the explorers and the court of the Lunar king looks like John Martin's Balshazzer's palace.

Alas we seem to have lost our predisposition for the whimsical when it comes to branches of science beyond our ken.

Via feuilleton


  1. You've just made my 8-year old's day. This is his favourite flick ever. :)

  2. Great art transcends time and technology!