A Trip to the Moon (5/9/12)

Trip to the MoonMovie One Hundred Thirteen

A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) by the film pioneer Georges Méliès is likely his most famous work, and given a large new audience in the film Hugo.

Historically, the films of Méliès are hugely important to cinema. A Trip to the Moon is regarded as the first science-fiction film, in fact. Méliès was originally a magician who was charmed by film and decided to bridge his two talents into many (531 between 1896 and 1913, according to Wikipedia) films. To call him anything other than a genius would be wrong.

A Trip to the Moon itself is about a group of astronomers that launch a rocket to the moon. After landing in the eye of the man on the moon, they disembark. Soon the group is attacked by aliens. After a struggle, the group leaves the moon and travels back to Earth where they are celebrated. Don’t take my highly abbreviated version, please watch the film yourself if you haven’t already.

It’s worth noting that I watched a recently restored fully hand-tinted color version on Blu-Ray with a soundtrack by Air. While the film has been pieced together from several sources for maximum posterity, it is a bit rough in spots but still a remarkable achievement and a wonder to watch. It is also accompanied by a documentary about the film and the process, which I will write about separately sometime soon. With films like Hugo, technology like Blu-Ray, and the wonders of the Internet, I’m so pleased films like A Trip to the Moon are getting revisited.

I give this 5 man on the moon‘s out of 5.

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Ebertfest Day Three – Wild and Weird (The Alloy Orchestra)

Wild and WeirdI have put off writing about Wild and Weird because I’m not totally sure what exactly to write about. Wild and Weird is a series of short, silent films in which the Alloy Orchestra creates and performs the accompanying soundtrack. The Alloy Orchestra is three men that mostly play percussion instruments, some traditional, some unique. They take great care in their music and, while untraditional, works extremely well with the source material.

For Ebertfest, the Alloy Orchestra did not play their full repertoire, the Wild and Weird DVD contains 14 shorts, I believe we saw 8-10 of them. The shorts were all unique, all different, and all fairly unusual. My favorite was Red Spectre (note this video has no sound) which is hand tinted and had a fitting devilish soundtrack to it.

As a huge huge fan of early silent cinema, the entire show was totally enrapturing. The music completely changes the tone of some films, but it keeps you entertained and at attention. I will be purchasing the Wild and Weird DVD shortly, actually.

Two of the guys from the Alloy Orchestra came back for the Q&A afterwards (the third guy was selling merchandise) and they went over some of their techniques, some of their instruments and their experiences with short films. It was said that films like Hugo have really brought the interest for silent cinema back in demand. YouTube is a haven for many silents, but so many have been destroyed or neglected over the years it’s an absolute shame. The Alloy Orchestra have been at this for over 20 years, long before YouTube, which is totally admirable. I recommend checking them out if you ever get the chance, I do not think you will be disappointed.

While I haven’t seen the DVD…Based on the stuff I saw…

I give it 5 out of 5.

Some interesting Ebertfest links:

Alloy Orchestra: http://www.alloyorchestra.com/
The festival’s main site: http://www.ebertfest.com/
Stream the interview sessions for free: http://ustre.am/JauL