Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SAGEBRUSH: Méliès At The Flicks

With one cinephilic foot placed squarely in the San Francisco Bay Area and the other in Boise, Idaho, I'm feeling somewhat of a conduit today whereby the movies themselves—not geographical locations—prove where I truly am. As has probably always been the case and certainly continues through today, audiences worldwide constitute a broadened albeit dispersed community united in spectatorial delight. In this, there is no difference in desire; a desire that spans across the past century. There's no requirement to be roped into the regional when the global is at hand.

Filmbud Brian Darr's well-researched piece for
Fandor (parts one and two) on Georges Méliès seems a perfect introduction to an upcoming event at Boise's The Flicks, which programmer Carole Skinner mentioned to me when we conversed last week. The Idaho Film Foundation (IFF) is hosting a Méliès Celebration, Sunday, March 4, 2012 from 3:00-5:00PM.

First up is A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune, 1902). This hand-painted color version of Méliès's legendary film, unseen for 109 years until its new restoration, will be followed by the documentary, The Extraordinary Voyage (Le voyage extraordinaire, 2011), directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange and featuring Costa Gravas, Michel Gondry, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Michel Hazanavicius. The magical Georges Méliès—celebrated in Martin Scorsese's Academy Award®-winning film Hugo (2011)—was the creator of one of cinema's most enduring images. This fascinating documentary charts the film's voyage across the century and into the next millennium, from 1902 to the astonishing rediscovery of a nitrate print in color in 1993 to the premiere of the new restoration on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival in 2011.

Interviews with some of contemporary cinema's most imaginative filmmakers attest to Méliès' enduring significance. The film will be introduced by Boise State University Assistant Professor of Modern Languages, Dr. Mariah Devereux Herbeck, who will lead a discussion and Q&A after the film. Tickets are $12 general admission and $9 for students in advance and at the door.

As interstitial coincidences go, perusing my in-flight magazine on my way to San Francisco I discovered a short write-up on the restoration of
A Trip to the Moon. Two foundations spent a decade restoring the print, and then enlisted French electronic music pioneers Air (whose first album was entitled Moon Safari) to provide an original score. Air enjoyed the gig so much that they built a whole album from it, which they recently released along with the DVD of Méliès masterpiece. More on Air's involvement can be found at Fact, as well as an in-depth interview at The Guardian.

Kudos to the Idaho Film Foundation, Carole Skinner and The Flicks for offering Boiseans a rare in-cinema opportunity to experience these films, and to Brian Darr and
Fandor for the historical context and the opportunity to stream A Trip to the Moon and many other Méliès titles. If not a Fandor member (what's keeping you?), the original B&W version of A Trip to the Moon with the Erich Wolfgang Korngold & Laurence Rosenthal score can be seen on YouTube.

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