Filed Under:

Air: Scoring A Cinematic Marvel, 100 Years Later

Play associated audio

In 1902, director Georges Melies released his magnum opus: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To the Moon), often considered the first science-fiction movie ever. Even if you've never heard of Melies, you've probably seen the film's most famous shot: a moon with a human face, wincing at the spaceship that has just crashed into its eye.

What almost no one has seen since the film's original release is its true color palette. Modern audiences know Le Voyage as a black-and-white movie, but in fact, Melies hand-painted each frame of the film for special screenings. Those hand-painted reels were lost for decades; when they were discovered in Barcelona back in 1993, archivists began a years-long process of repairing the badly damaged film. For its soundtrack, they asked Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel — the French duo known as Air — to put together an original score.

The new restoration debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the soundtrack album is coming out in a few days. Godin and Dunckel tell NPR's Guy Raz that as exciting as it was to write the music, the real thrill was seeing the movie the way Melies intended.

"It's like another movie — you don't look at it the same way," Godin says. "The color makes the movie very modern, like something as entertaining now as it was in the past. The black-and-white version is more like a piece of a museum."

Dunckel says the duo watched the movie every day for a month — and that by the end, he started to feel like a part of the original film crew.

"I can recognize on the screen any character, any woman, any man. I can see how much fun they had. I can feel the energy, the fact that they were so young at the time," Godin says. "I felt part of the whole process."

Watch a scene from the restored version of Le Voyage Dans La Lune, featuring original music by Air, below.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Opulent And Apolitical: The Art Of The Met's Islamic Galleries

Navina Haidar, an Islamic art curator at the Met, says she isn't interested in ideology: "The only place where we allow ourselves any passion is in the artistic joy ... of something that's beautiful."
NPR

Tired Of The Seoul-Sucking Rat Race, Koreans Flock To Farming

More than 80 percent of people in South Korea live in cities. But in the last few years, that has started to change. Tens of thousands of South Koreans are relocating to the countryside each year.
WAMU 88.5

Virginia Republicans Warn Of High Energy Costs With Obama's 'Clean Power Plan'

Republican leaders in Virginia say Obama's clean energy plan would drive up energy costs and damage a struggling economy. Democrats say saving the planet is more important than the short-term problem of higher energy bills.
NPR

Hope Or Hype: The Revolution In Africa Will Be Wireless

Young entrepreneurs in Africa say that they're leading a tech movement from the ground up. They think technology can solve social ills. But critics wonder if digital fixes can make a dent.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.