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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Trip to the Moon [Blu-ray]

 

(Georges Méliès, 1902)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Star-Film

Video: Flicker Alley

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Feature Runtime: 0:15:36.226 / Documentary: 1:06:13.386

Disc Size: 22,753,291,364 bytes

Feature Size: 2,489,640,960 bytes / Documentary: 10,566,168,576 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps (both feature and documentary)

Chapters:  5 / 14

Case: Steelbook Blu-ray case

Release date: April 10th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2064 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2064 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

A Trip to the Moon (black and white) with audio options (see note) - 12:49 in 1080P

Interview with Air (10:37 - 1080P)

• The Astronomers Dream (3:14 - 1080i)

• The Eclipse (9:19 - 1080i)

DVD (Dual layered- Region 1 - NTSC) of Feature (color and black and white), Extraordinary Voyage and all extras on the BD disc

• 12-page liner notes

 

Bitrate:

(Feature - A Trip to the Moon TOP / The Extraordinary Voyage BOTTOM)

 

 

Description: WINNER! 2011 National Society of Film Critics - "Best Film Restoration" Award

Flicker Alley is pleased to bring the original hand-painted color version of Georges Méliès' masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon (1902), to home video 110 years after its first release.

Packaged in a limited-edition, SteelBook case, A Trip to the Moon also features The Extraordinary Voyage, a fascinating documentary directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange about the life of Georges Méliès and the magic of film history and preservation.

 

***

No original hand-colored copies of A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune - 1902), by Georges Méliès, had been known to survive until one was miraculously found in Spain in the mid-1990s, but in a fragmentary condition thought too fragile to handle for either viewing or restoration. In 2010, three experts in worldwide film restoration - Lobster Films, and two non-profit entities, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage - launched one of the most complex and ambitious film restoration projects ever to bring an original, colored version of Méliès masterpiece back 110 years after its first release. Using the most advanced digital technologies now available, the team reassembled and restored the fragments of the 13,375 frames. The two foundations, which carried out specifically the music part of this project, decided to approach AIR's Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, to compose an original modern soundtrack to accompany this cinematic milestone. Packaged in a limited-edition, SteelBookTM case, this publication also features The Extraordinary Voyage, a fascinating new documentary, directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange, which chronicles the journey of A Trip to the Moon from the fantastical Méliès production in 1902, to the astonishing rediscovery of a nitrate print in color in 1993, to the premiere of the new restoration on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The documentary includes interviews with contemporary filmmakers, including Costa Gavras, Michel Gondry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Méliès enduring significance to cinema.

 

 

The Film:

The material for A Trip to the Moon is sourced from a restored color version that had been considered lost for several decades and is presented with an original soundtrack by the French band, AIR.

In 2010, three experts in worldwide film restoration - a private collection Lobster Films, and two non-profit entities, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage - launched the most complex and ambitious restoration in the history of cinema, over 12 years, using advanced digital technologies to reassemble and restore the fragments of the 13, 375 frames.

The restoration print premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and made a worldwide tour of international festivals including Telluride, Pordenone, Rotterdam, and the MoMA Festival of Film Preservation.

Now, one of the most technically sophisticated and expensive restorations in film history, A Trip to the Moon can thrill home video audiences in its original 1902 colors.

The Extraordinary Voyage (2011)
The Extraordinary Voyage chronicles the journey of A Trip to the Moon from the fantastical Méliès' production in 1902 to the astonishing rediscovery of a nitrate print in color in 1993, to the premiere of the new restoration on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival in 2011.

The story of Moon's restoration to its original 1902 colors unfolds as Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange acquire a severely damaged color print from the Filmoteca de Catalunya in 1999 and then begin the tedious task of peeling off and unrolling the nitrate prints to be able to digitize them. It took two years to discover the images on those fragments, which were then stored on a hard drive for 8 years as the technology available at the time did not allow Lobster Films to continue the landmark restoration.

The documentary includes interviews with contemporary filmmakers, including Costa Gavras, Michel Gondry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Méliès' enduring significance to cinema.
 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

A Trip to the Moon looks just fabulous on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. What a story of the discovery and restoration. We compared some frames with the black and white edition (also presented in 1080P). You can see the colorized has less damage and shows more information in the frame. There are plenty of imperfections but you can still appreciate the fabulous effort that went into this presentation. This Blu-ray is awesome. You can gaze at the colorizations in amazement and the BW version has solidly-layered contrast. I feel quite privileged to have seen the film looking this good.

 

The 2011 documentary is in 1080P and has some amazing graphics and art pieces (akin to storyboards with aliens, rockets etc.). Cool to see Tom Hanks. It looks solid.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

(A Trip to the Moon (BW - 1080P) TOP / A Trip top the Moon - colorized - 1080P BOTTOM)

 

 

(A Trip to the Moon (BW - 1080P) TOP / A Trip top the Moon - colorized - 1080P BOTTOM)

 

 

(A Trip to the Moon (BW - 1080P) TOP / A Trip top the Moon - colorized - 1080P BOTTOM)

 

 

(A Trip to the Moon (BW - 1080P) TOP / A Trip top the Moon - colorized - 1080P BOTTOM)

 

 

More colorized Captures

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The colorized edition has the music by 'Air' (Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel) and is rhythmic, intense, has some gaps with mumbling - a representation of the onscreen activity, well timed explosions and is, overall, a revelation - a great way to view the film, IMO. It is 5.1 and has interesting mix characteristics. There is a lot of drum, some piano, guitar and its eclectic electric beats make for a wonderful presentation. It's not 'drugged-out' weird and is actually quite passive. Both the colorization and the 'Air' audio are liking have a surreal film experience with A Trip to the Moon - brilliant! I loved it.

 

My only head-scratcher is it would have been nice to have the 3 options for the black and white score choices to play with the colorized.

 

Now, there is an issue here - as stated on the Flicker Alley website: 'Please note that one of the bonus feature audio options on the Blu-ray disc of our limited SteelBook edition -- A Trip to the Moon in B&W Audio Option 1, featuring Robert Israel's orchestral score and the original English narration written by Georges Melies -- is currently missing its narration track and only features Robert Israel's orchestral score - All Blu-ray discs shipped at this time will be with this orchestral score only configuration.

This only affects the
Blu-ray disc of this set. The DVD disc in this publication contains the audio for this bonus feature as described on the packaging.

We are in the process of remastering and remanufacturing a
Blu-ray
disc which will have the English narration/Robert Israel's orchestral score configuration for this particular bonus feature. If interested, we will make it available, by request, to customers who fill out our on-line Disc Replacement Form located HERE.'

 

The black and white score's are lossless and the orchestral audio by Robert Israel, without narration, is grand - typical of the silent era but perhaps more robust. The second track produced by Russell Merritt consists of a troupe of actors voicing the various characters as performed in the U.S. in 1903 (cool and interesting) and the last track has the light, crisp piano music by Frederick Hodges - appropriate but not that different from Israel's.

 

Extras :

Beyond the colorized feature and the hour-6-minute documentary on  the life of George Méliès, the magic of films history and preservation of this incredible historical artifact mentioned above, there are more extras. As described in the package: This limited-edition 2-Disc BD/DVD SteelBook Edition also contains A Trip to the Moon in a beautifully restored black and white edition from original 35 mm elements with two separate audio tracks of music: An orchestral score by Robert Israel with the original English narration written by Méliès (see above); and a second track produced by Russell Merritt consisting of a troupe of actors voicing the various characters as performed in the U.S. in 1903, with piano music by Frederick Hodges (as a lone 3rd option). There is also a 10-minute, English subtitled, interview with the group AIR (Godin and Dunckel) on the restored soundtrack, and two lunar-related shorts by Méliès - The Eclipse (3:14) and The Astronomer's Dream (9:19) - both in 1080i.

 

There is a second disc - a dual-layered DVD (Region 1- NTSC) with the feature, documentary and extras and there are liner notes with essays and images.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I don't know if I am being unduly influenced by my recent viewing of Scorsese's Hugo - but I was in heaven with this package. My mouth was hanging-open watching both the colorized and each seperate audio-track version of the black and white transfers of A Trip to the Moon. With the lights out, in a pitch black room - the magic of the film dominates the Home Theater space. An incredible Blu-ray that should get some heavy voting in our year-end poll. For all cinema fans - strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 4th, 2012

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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