The accompanying documentary was also a revelation, containing clips from several of Méliès' other films, a fascinating account of the hand coloring process, and a close look at the tremendous and potentially disastrous job of restoring a canister of volatile, 100 year old celluloid. The documentary also includes interviews with leading directors like Costa-Gavras (Z), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), who all speak of Méliès' contributions to film with great admiration and affection. The restoration of A Trip to the Moon was clearly a labor of love, and what could be more appropriate? For if there is one thing i feel comfortable in speculating about Georges Méliès, it is that he must have completely and utterly loved making movies. The sheer joy that he displayed in bringing his magic to the brand new medium of film is testament to that, as is, sadly, the symbolic equivalent of self-immolation he performed when his career began to crash down around him, throwing all his films and all his props onto a bonfire. You can only be hurt that badly by a very great love indeed.
If you are in Chicago, A Trip to the Moon and Le Voyage Extraordinaire are playing Gene Siskel Film Center until Thursday.