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Rebirth of a Classic: Iconic

Cannes did not only showcase some watch-worthy modern films this year, but also a French classic that's for your eyes only!

One of the highlights of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year was the screening of “A Trip to the Moon” (Le Voyage dans la lune) during its opening night. The 1902 masterpiece written and directed by Georges Melies, originally in black and white, enjoyed an intense reception and popularity when it was released. The French classic had a hand-painted color version but was thought to be lost forever prior to its “resurrection” in Cannes.

The most popular image from the French classic, the spaceship landing on the moon’s eye, restored in time for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (Photo via The Hollywood Reporter

In the early 90’s, an unnamed donor gave Cinematheque de Barcelone a copy of the color version, but attempts to restore it did not commence until 1999. Then finally, in 2010, the epic rebirth was made possible by Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage, Lobster Films, and Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema, who utilized today’s modern technology to restore the iconic silent film to its former glory. It involved restoration of colossal budget and proportions—imagine treating the film, putting together fragments of 13, 375 frames, then digitizing and reassembling them one by one! French electro band AIR was asked to create an original soundtrack, a modern touch to complement the revived classic.

“A Trip to the Moon” was inspired by two popular literary pieces around that time: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells. The classic film tells the story of man’s fascination with the moon and space travel in a very amusing and imaginative manner, complete with special effects and animation that were considered ingenious in its time. But that’s not the only reason why this silent film is one of the celebrated classics in the history of motion picture. At 109 years old, it’s the first and oldest science fiction flick ever to wow audiences on the big screen!

View the original black and white version in the clip below:


Sources/Additional Reading:
Cannes 2011: Méliès’s Fully Restored A Trip To The Moon in Color To Screen Fest’s Opening Night
Early French classic ‘resurrected’ at Cannes
Restored ‘Trip to the Moon’ Debuts on Cannes Opening Night

Did you happen to catch the debut of this newly-restored classic on Cannes? Tell us what you think through a comment below!

written by plasticpopsicle

2 comments

  1. vicuna

    vicuna

    excellent!! the very first science fiction and special effects movie!! :)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. tallgrrlrocks

    tallgrrlrocks

    Truly a classic. One of my all-time faves. This also inspired Smashing Pumpkins with their video for "Tonight, Tonight" :)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam