Air: Scoring A Cinematic Marvel, 100 Years Later | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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

No Small Feat: The NBA's Shortest Player Never Gave Up

At 5 foot 3, Muggsy Bogues holds the record as shortest player in NBA history. Criticism of his height started on the basketball courts of the Baltimore projects, and continued well into his career.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ranting And Throwing Papers: An Angry Candidate Runs For Congress

State Rep. Mike Bost's rants on the Illinois House floor are the stuff viral dreams are made of. Bost says he has good reason to be upset, and wants voters to share his anger.
NPR

Israel's Solar-Powered 'Trees': For Smartphones And Community

The man-made trees are designed to create a public space where people can gather and re-charge a battery — their own and their smartphone's.

Leave a Comment

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