Even after Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s love letter to Georges Méliès, the public might need incentive to fork out for the cinema pioneer’s 15-minute, 111-year-old classic.
So here goes: this is an original handpainted print, largely unseen for a century, lovingly restored with a bespoke score by Air and accompanied by a definitive hour-long doc.
But mostly, it’s because Le Voyage Dans La Lune is the cornerstone for your entire movie collection.
While the familiar tale (men visit moon, fight monsters, return) has lost none of its primitive fascination, the addition of colour transforms the film.
With primary-hued splashes on monochrome backdrops, it looks like a modern comic-book movie, a reminder that Méliès invented genre cinema.
Despite the truncated length, his set-pieces hit the same beats as today’s blockbusters.
The difference is that Méliès nails the brief in seconds, an economy most palpable in the film’s signature image: the moon, a face, a rocket in its eye.
The picture quality is staggering, considering its age. As the bundled doc admits, this was not so much restoration as resurrection, as 21st-Century tech was used to revive the cutting edge of 1902.
Air’s score straddles the divide, mixing woozy atmospherics with Flash Gordon pomp.
While Méliès’ life will surprise nobody who saw Hugo, footage from his other films underlines his claim to writing the job spec for all visionary filmmakers.
The philosophy hasn’t changed – why wouldn’t you want to use this miraculous invention to show the impossible?
And with talking heads like Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Michel Gondry paying tribute, it’s clear Méliès still haunts cinema’s dreams.