Saturday, June 25, 2011

film concert Le Voyage dans la Lune (2011 Lobster Films restoration) Timothy Brock and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna playing Offenbach

Saturday, 25 June 2011 at 22.00, Piazza Maggiore, Bologna (Il Cinema Ritrovato). Il film verrà mostrato due volte, accompagnato dalla musica registrata degli AIR e successivamente dall'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, che eseguirà un adattamento di Timothy Brock dell'omonima operetta di Jacques Offenbach.

Il viaggio nella luna. FR 1902. D: Georges Méliès. SC: Jules Verne, Georges Méliès, H.G. Wells (non accred.); DP: Michault, Lucien Tainguy; ED: Georges Méliès; PD: Claudel (non accred.); Co.: Jeanne d’Alcy; Cast: Victor André, Bleuette Bernon (Phoebe), Brunnet (astronomo), François Lallement (l’ufficiale), Jeanne d’Alcy (non accred.), Henri Delannoy (il capitano del missile), Depierre, Farjaux (astronomo), Kelm (astronomo), Georges Méliès (il professor Barbenfouillis); P: Star Film; Pri. pro.: 1 settembre 1902 (Francia). DCP 2K. 13’56''. Col. (pochoir). From: Lobster Films, Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine e Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma. Restauro promosso nel 2011 da Lobster Films (Serge Bromberg & Eric Lange), Fondation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine du Cinéma (Séverine Wemaere), Fondation Groupama Gan pour le Cinéma (Gilles Duval).

Catalogue: "A black and white original nitrate print belonging to Madeleine Malthête-Méliès and a positive print belonging to CNC have been used for this restoration. The digitization of those elements was made at CNC-AFF. Some fragments had been previously preserved on an internegative print at Haghefilm. 2011 digital restoration was made by Technicolor in Los Angeles."

"Following the restoration of the entire collection of Pierre Etaix’s films last year, our two foundations again decided to join forces to lead one of the most ambitious projects in film restoration history. It was a project of unprecedented complexity, centering on a monument in the history of film: the color version of A Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès."

"This version of the film, long considered lost, was found in 1993 in Barcelona, one of a collection of 200 silent films donated by an anonymous collector to the Filmoteca de Catalalunya. However, the copy was in such a dire state that no one believed restoration possible. In 1999, following an exchange between collectors, the copy became part of a private collection, Lobster Films, which worked until 2002 to try to detach and digitalise images in the film one by one. It took until 2010 for a complete restoration to be envisaged and launched by our two foundations, the only ones in France to be active in cinema and in this particular private collection. As for all our projects, the objective is to carry out the restoration in the best cinematic tradition, starting from the elements of the original, and to show the restored film to as wide an audience as possible. In the case of A Trip to the Moon, a silent, 14-minute film (a long feature for the time it was made), we could not conceive of presenting or showing the restored work in the usual way. Hence our decision to give the film its own original, contemporary soundtrack, and thus make the restoration as exceptional an event as the Georges Mélies work itself. The group AIR not only accepted to sit alongside us in the rocket, but made the trip back to earth more beautiful than we could have imagined. We cannot thank them enough. To work on Georges Mélies’ masterpiece inevitably led us to embark on another kind of trip: one back in time to the world of the very first moving images, and of a joyous, prolific director, Georges Mélies." Séverine Wemaere (Head of Technicolor Foundation), Gilles Duval (Head of Groupama Gan Foundation).

"In May 1902, Georges Mélies began filming A Trip to the Moon in workshop A. Of the adventure, what remains are the names of the cast. On the subject, Mélies wrote: “The Moon was Bleuette Bemon, a music-hall singer, the stars were the girls from the ballets at the Châtelet theatre and the men (the main characters) were Victor André from the Cluny theatre, Delpierre, Farjaux, Kelm, Brunnet, music hall singers, and myself. The Selenites were acrobats from the Folies-Bergeres.” The film’s operators were Michault and Lucien Tainguy. The film was released in France on 1st September 1902."

The Trip’s Origins

"On his motivations for making A Trip to the Moon, Georges Méliès wrote in 1933: “The idea of a trip to the moon came to me when I was reading a book by Jules Verne's called From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. In the book, the humans could not land on the moon (...). So I imagined, using the same means as Jules Verne (canon and rocket), landing on the moon, in such a way that I could put together some arresting and amusing fairytale images, show the outside and inside of the moon, and some monsters who might live on the moon, add one or two artistic effects (women representing the stars, the comets..., snow effects, the bottom of the sea).”

"However, works other than the book by Jules Verne, published in 1865, no doubt influenced Méliès. Starting with H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, published in French a few months after the film was shot. Between these two dates, another work appeared which was undoubtedly a source of inspiration: A Trip to the Moon by Albert Vanloo, E. Leterrier and Arnold Mortier, set to music by Jacques Offenbach. This was a fairytale opera in four acts and twenty-three scenes and was performed for the first time on 26 October 1875 at the Gaité theatre, then at the Châtelet theatre from 31 March 1877. Laurent Mannoni and Jacques Malthête point to another source of possible inspiration in the exhibition catalogue ‘Méliès, Magic and Cinema’ - the show “A Trip to the Moon” which was created in 1901 for the pan-American exhibition in Buffalo, in the state of New York. Written by two Americans, Frederick Thomson and Skip Dundy, this show enjoyed tremendous success. “For a 50 cent ticket, (...) spectators entered a large spatial vessel with around 30 places, called the Luna, (...) at the centre of a large circular panorama. At the sound of a gong, the wings of the vessel would move and simulate take-off. Wind would blow, and soon the painted scenery (…) would fade, replaced by the earth seeming to fade into the distance. After a few adventures, the vessel would approach the moon, flying over it slowly, before landing in the centre of a crater. Selenites would then take charge of the passengers”. It would be reasonable to assume that Méliès had heard of the attraction at the time he was shooting A Trip to the Moon." Laurent Mannoni and Jacques Malthête: Méliès, magie et cinéma. Electra, Paris, 2002).

"George Mélies was the first great film magician. His joyous sense of fun and ability to astound were a big influence on both my early animations and then my live action films. He seems to have wielded more subtle influences as well. The last scene of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was meant as an homage to the end of Mélies life. Like my Doctor Parnassus, he was reduced to selling children’s toys from a little stall. His stall stood outside a Paris railway station. For some reason I was never aware of which one until sometime after finishing the film. It was Montparnasse! But, of course, Melies still has a tight creative grip on me." Terry Gilliam: I testi sono tratti dal libro La Couleur retrouvée du Voyage dans la lune. Fondation Technicolor e Fondation Groupama Gan, Parigi, 2011.

AA: Timothy Brock's arrangement of Jacques Offenbach's opéra-féerie Le Voyage dans la lune (1875) is a wonderful and inspired idea for a performance of Georges Méliès's film. There was a sense of joy in the performance of Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna conducted by Timothy Brock. Next day I had the chance to see the Méliès film with the soundtrack recorded by AIR. I hope they'll record the Jacques Offenbach - Timothy Brock music instead.

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