Last weekend I stumbled across an album cover with the VES (Visual Effects Society) logo on it. For those of you who don’t know, the current logo for the VES is the iconic image of the moon from the film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), a 16 minute black and white silent film from 1902. It was a revolutionary film for its time, being not only the first sci-fi but also using special effects that were very high tech at the turn of the century. Though the film was distributed predominately in black and white there was also a hand-coloured version that was thought to be lost for quite some time until the only surviving print was found in Spain in 1993.
So what’s the album? Well this is the new album from the French band AIR, a band recognised the world over for their debut album Moon Safari. They were approached to compose a soundtrack to accompany the restored colour version of this film. When the colour print was rediscovered in 1993 it wasn't in great condition, and a project began to attempt to restore and digitise it. This was lead by two organisations responsible for film preservation, the Foundation Groupama Gan and the Foundation Technicolor. The restoration began in 1999 and completed in 2010 in the Technicolor lab in LA. In its honour a debut screening was held at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Eager to access a new audience, the three producers in charge of the restored film were looking to have an original contemporary soundtrack when they approached AIR. AIR’s Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel got to work on creating a 16 minute score that would complement the handmade, or rather ‘knocked together’ essence of the film that director Georges Méliès created.
Inspired by their work on the short film, AIR decided to develop the project into a full album. This was released worldwide on February 6th and the film's producers gave the record company- Virgin - permission to release a limited edition version that includes the album and a DVD/digital download of the restored film. This version is limited to 70,000 copies worldwide, so if you'd like to get your hands on it, I would suggest you buy soon.
It is of course an album written to compliment a relatively strange film, and may not be the easy listening you usually associate with AIR. However, if you’re a film fan and you'd enjoy owning your own copy of Le Voyage dans la Lune then I highly recommend it.