Serge Bromberg & Eric Lange | 64 mins | DVD | 16:9 | France / English & French
Documentary about the life and work of Georges Méliès, with particular attention to A Trip to the Moon, which then moves on to discuss how the hand-coloured print was rediscovered and the various attempts at restoring it.
It’s an informative piece, respectful of Méliès’ genius but not stopping short of detailing the later tragedies that befell him and his work. I suppose some might accuse it of being a hagiography, but I don’t think it’s so blunt. Praise comes from interviewees like Jean-Pierre “Amélie” Jeunet, Michel “Eternal Sunshine” Gondry, and Michel “The Artist” Hazanavicius.
The section on the restoration of A Trip to the Moon is perhaps even more fascinating. The colour print that was discovered was in terrible condition, and the restoration process was far from a straightforward scan-it-and-tweak-it. Various methods were tried, mistakes were made, and the documentary details them in fascinating, occasionally wince-inducing detail. Méliès created magic when he made these shorts, and now equally incredible digital magic is conjured to make them shine again.
The Extraordinary Voyage accompanies A Trip to the Moon on DVD (or, if you fancy spending a small fortune, Blu-ray), but arguments that it goes beyond a mere ‘special feature’ are worth hearing. It’s a worthy biography/tribute to a cinematic force whose influence is still felt today, coupled with the extraordinary story of how his supremacy is being preserved.