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A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) | Georges Méliès | 1902

"No hand-colored prints of A Trip to the Moon were known to survive until 1993, when one was given to the Filmoteca de Catalunya by an anonymous donor as part of a collection of two hundred silent films. It is unknown whether this version, a hand-colored print struck from a second-generation negative, was colored by Elisabeth Thuillier’s lab, but the perforations used imply that the copy was made before 1906. The flag waved during the launching scene in this copy is colored to resemble the flag of Spain, indicating that the hand-colored copy was made for a Spanish exhibitor.

In 1999, Anton Gimenez of the Filmoteca de Catalunya mentioned the existence of this print, which he believed to be in a state of total decomposition, to Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange of the French film company Lobster Films. Bromberg and Lange offered to trade a recently rediscovered film by Segundo de Chomón for the hand-colored print, and Gimenez accepted. Bromberg and Lange consulted various specialist laboratories in an attempt to restore the film, but because the reel of film had apparently decomposed into a rigid mass, none believed restoration to be possible. Consequently, Bromberg and Lange themselves set to work separating the film frames, discovering that only the edges of the film stock had decomposed and congealed together, and thus that many of the frames themselves were still salvageable. Between 2002 and 2005, various digitization efforts allowed 13,375 fragments of images from the print to be saved. In 2010, a complete restoration of the hand-colored print was launched by Lobster Films, the Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema, and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage. The digitized fragments of the hand-colored print were reassembled and restored, with missing frames recreated with the help of a black-and-white print in the possession of the Méliès family, and time-converted to run at an authentic silent-film speed, 14 frames per second. The restoration was completed in 2011 at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles.

The restored version 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. The restoration was released by Flicker Alley in a 2-disc Blu-Ray and DVD edition also including The Extraordinary Voyage, a feature-length documentary by Bromberg and Lange about the film’s restoration, in 2012.” {X}

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