Two things can happen over a long period of time: technology can improve, and long lost items can be found. Now, when you combine these two elements in the world of film, you frankly have a recipe for something truly spectacular. Take, for example, the 1902 science fiction fantasy classic A Trip to the Moon from the great French special effects pioneer Georges Méliès. Originally released to moviehouses in both black-and-white and hand-colored editions (color hadn’t been introduced to film the way we know it then, kids), the latter version was considered to be a lost film until a copy surfaced in 1993 — during a time when the art of restoration wasn’t as advanced as it is today.
In 2010, the hand-colored version’s digital restoration was completed. To make up for the fact that there were many missing bits and pieces damaged by the ravages of time, techs took frames from the original black-and-white version (which itself went through some repair in 2003, when the film’s ending — which was also thought to be lost — was found in a barn) and digitally coloring them. In 2011 (nearly twenty years after the hand-colored version was found), the restored, complete “color” edition of A Trip to the Moon was screened to audiences with a new, modern soundtrack by French band Air.
And now, here we are: 110 years after the award-winning fifteen-minute film first flashed onto screens around the world, the folks at Flicker Alley have given us a 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook Combo set presenting the 2011 re-release of the iconic film, along with the complete black-and-white version. It’s truly a delight to see this surreal masterpiece in either format — just to compare Georges Méliès’ innovative trick-photography 1902 special effects to the bloated world of CGI crap in 2012 if nothing else — but to see it now like this is nothing short of a miracle. Heck, this is a miracle! The movie looks positively stunning considering its age and near-archaic style.