Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage Deluxe Combo Blu-Ray DVD Edition

A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage Deluxe Combo Blu-Ray DVD Edition***** = movie

**** = discs

FIRST LET ME SAY THIS INCLUDES BOTH A BLU-RAY DISC AND A DVD. You do not need a Blu-ray player to buy this. The packaging makes it hard to get the DVD out without scratching it, it is tucked behind the Blu-ray disc.

What more could be said about this great classic fantasy film? The praises are many. Now we can finally see it in color, just as it was hand-colored by the artists at the Melies Studio.

However the disc presentation falls a little short. I hated paying so much for a 15 minute film, yes you do get an hour long documentary about Georges Melies as well as a B&W version of the film and two other Melies shorts bringing the program over the 90 minute mark. I just wish this had been combined with Flicker Alley's Melies Encore DVD release.

Another issue is that the multiple audio options including a reading of narration written by Georges Melies (currently missing on the Blu-ray disc) is available ONLY on the B&W version. The color version gives you no audio options, you HAVE to listen to a new composition that sounds something like what the 1970's experimental rock group Pink Floyd would do. Now if I want to see this as Georges Melies intended, in color, I would also like to hear the words he wrote! I don't dislike the new composition, i just want to hear Georges' words.

The restoration still shows the age of the film and is far from perfect, but it is over 100 years old and we are lucky to have it. However, a little work with image stabilization programs and flicker reduction would have improved the film without taking anything away from the original artwork.

Flicker Alley is offering replacement Blu-ray discs if you visit their website. These will correct the missing narration on the B&W version of the movie. These new discs have not yet been manufactured as of 4/5/12 but they will put you on a waiting list for the corrected Blu-ray disc. There is a comment section on the form where I requested they make all audio options available for the color version.

*****5/1/12 Disc Replacement Update from Flicker Alley*****

Dear Flicker Alley Customer:

We are writing to confirm your request for a Blu-ray disc replacement of our limited SteelBook edition A Trip to the Moon/The Extraordinary Voyage. We want to let you know that the replacement Blu-ray discs have now been manufactured to correct the audio mastering error on one of the bonus feature black and white versions.

We will be processing and shipping your requested replacement disc(s) before the end of this week to the address that you keyed-in on the replacement disc order form made available on our website. USPS First-Class Mail will be used for both domestic and international addresses.

Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience related to your purchase of this set, and thank you for your patience during the re-mastering and re-manufacturing process.

Please feel free to contact us with any inquiries.

Best wishes,

The Flicker Alley Team

There is another Trip To The Moon item on Amazon (found here: A Trip to the Moon Restored (Limited Edition, Steelbook) [Blu-ray]) that is rather expensive, (I believe it's around 70$ now), that is the Limited Edition Steelbook, which is no longer in print. The one being printed now is this product found here on this page. I purchased this expecting the steelbook, this is just my warning to everyone else, it is NOT a steelbook.

That being said, other than the packaging, there is no difference between the two. It still comes with the Blu-ray, DVD, and a 24 page booklet, all packaged within (what many know as) a Criterion Blu-ray case.

Now, about the film itself: absolutely magnificent. After watching both the colour version, and the black-and-white version, I watched the hour long documentary included on the disc. The wealth of information within this feature is overwhelming. You learn about silent films, The history of George Melies, the fall of silent cinema, and the finding and restoration of A Trip to The Moon (my favourite part!), all of it being very informative. Also included are two other shorts by Melies with moon-related stories, an interview with French music duo Air, and three audio options for the black-and-white version of the film.

A Trip to The Moon is one of the best Blu-ray packages you can spend your money on, it's worthy of a spot in any film-lovers collection.

Buy A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage Deluxe Combo Blu-Ray DVD Edition Now

My wife and I were fortunate enough to have seen this new restoration of one of the landmarks of film, Georges Méliès' A TRIP TO THE MOON, at its third presentation last year. That was on September 6, 2011 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And, believe it or not, EVERY SEAT (over 1000!) was taken and there were hundreds of people outside hoping for "no-show" seats (I understand there were none!) And this for a 1902 film!

This film had not been seen in a color version in over 100 years. For anyone not familiar with it, it is one of the seminal motion pictures and it was, at the time it was produced, one of the longest films yet made (about 15 minutes) and it was certainly one of the most elaborate.

Most people have seen the iconic image of the moon being struck in the 'eye' by the rocket and many people have seen the entire film but never like this!

In addition to the color, much more of the left side of the image is now visible and there are two additional scenes which appear in no other edition and have not been seen since the first release of the film.

How did they get color in 1902? Each color release print was hand-painted frame by frame!

I had the opportunity, after the Academy showing to speak personally with Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films (who restored this film) as well as Tom Burton of Technicolor Restoration Services who handled the 'nitty-gritty' work in preparing the film for exhibition. Their enthusiasm was VERY apparent and VERY contagious. I can tell you that the entire audience was thrilled and amazed.

(Tom Burton and his Technicolor team were the people involved with the amazing and wonderful restoration of Wings [Blu-ray] [also available as the DVD Wings] which I also recommend to all.)

The A TRIP TO THE MOON film was shown twice that evening along with other newly restored early [c. 1900] films, some, believe it or not, in 3D and color!!! What an evening that was! These films all had to be seen to be believed!

One of the remarkable things about the restoration of A TRIP TO THE MOON is the decision to leave the print exactly as it was originally. This particular print, the only color one which survived, was made for a distributor in Spain. Hence, after the projectile is pushed into the 'gun' by the ladies, you will see a flag and it is NOT the French Tricolor; rather it is the red-yellow-red Spanish flag, which was painted that way for the Spanish audiences. (Serge Bromberg told me that it could have been changed to the Tricolor but, in the interest of the authenticity and integrity of this particular print, the restorers decided to leave it just as it was. I APPLAUD that decision!)

So you will see this particular print almost exactly as it was seen in 1902.

That evening at the Academy, the film was shown twice, the first time with accompaniment by the music group AIR (the 'official' music for this release), the second time with something much more appropriate: Serge Bromberg reading Georges Méliès' own script.

My wife and I were not keen on AIR's music; neither were most of the people to whom we spoke afterwards.

Even with AIR's music though, the evening was one of those rare magical events people attend only a few times in their lives. We'll never forget it.

Of course, NONE of this would mean anything at all if the film A TRIP TO THE MOON itself were not good. But it is as its thousands of prints and showings over the years attest. Frankly, not only is the movie a breakthrough in cinema history, it is a great deal of fun. (I wonder if those participating in its creation could have envisioned that people 110 years later would still be watching it and enjoying it?)

Do you remember what the Internet was like in its early days? Primitive, sometimes frustrating, but new and exciting and with such promise of what was to come ...

That is exactly what this film was to cinema.

Thus it is with profound regret that I have to tell you why I am giving this A Trip to the Moon Restored (Limited Edition, Steelbook) [Blu-ray] only three stars (and why I feel that I'm being generous).

AIR's music is even more dreadful than I had remembered it from the Academy showing of September 6, 2011. I'm sure that some (who knows, maybe even most) people will like it but this is MY opinion: it's AWFUL and COMPLETELY inappropriate for this film!

AIR's track is the ONLY audio option you have when watching the restored color version. This is unconscionable, again in my opinion.

I do not know why ANYONE would have commissioned such a group to write music for this film. I can only assume that someone hoped to attract a 'younger' and 'hip' audience for this film. Perhaps AIR or their recording company helped with the funding of the restoration. But I believe that the thinking behind commissioning and writing this score were severely flawed such music CANNOT add to the enjoyment of a film such as this one (and the 'hip' kids aren't even going to WATCH this film, much less buy it) and I believe the fact that this score is the ONLY one available accompanying the restored color version is a disgrace, not at all keeping with the tone of the film.

Within the Bonus section, the black-and-white version of the film is presented. There are three audio choices available for that version, any one of which would have been better for accompanying the color version. But we have no choice in that regard.

We SHOULD have been given similar audio choices for the color version (including AIR's music for those who want it). Period.

What a shame after all the magnificent, difficult, expensive, and time-consuming restoration work done by Serge Bromberg, Lobster Films, the Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema, and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage to have released a travesty like this (and I'm referring only to this particular Blu-ray/DVD set).

I myself will be watching the color version 'mute,' that is, with the sound turned off or I may record one of the tracks from the B&W version and play that in conjunction with the color version.

That's the only way I'll ever watch this again.

I must tell you that this set does not, in my opinion, represent good value for money. We get the color version of the film (about 15 minutes), a documentary (quite fascinating, about an hour in length but I cannot imagine anyone watching it more than two or three times), an interview with AIR, the B&W version mentioned (another 15 minutes), and two other Georges Méliès shorts (both of which were previously released on Flicker Alley's Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913 set; together they run about 12 minutes).

That's it!

The DVD has exactly the same program as the Blu-ray. I cannot understand Flicker Alley's rationale for selling this set in this way.

I shouldn't tell you this but, if you want to see the color restoration of A TRIP TO THE MOON, it is easily found, albeit illegally I'm sure, all over the web. And though I certainly do NOT recommend this, you can download it for free if you wish. I normally would not even mention such a thing except for the fact that I am so utterly disappointed with this Blu-ray/DVD set.

Please take into consideration that my negative comments apply ONLY to this Blu-ray/DVD release, NOT repeat NOT to the magnificent color restoration effected by the people involved. The colors in the restoration are positively breathtaking and seeing this movie in color radically transforms it (at least for me).

(Please note that the audio error in the original Blu-ray disc has been corrected, the requested replacement discs have been mailed, and all sets purchased from now on will contain the remastered disc.)

Flicker Alley contacted me and said that, if I wished to return the set, they would refund my money (that was very fair of them). I shall not do this (I'll keep my set), mostly out of sympathy with Flicker Alley, a small, very dedicated, company which desires to make significant films of the past available on video for the enjoyment of all.

But this is the last time I'll ever pre-order any video release; I shall wait to see other peoples' reviews first!

Other reviewers here on Amazon are very positive about this release but obviously I myself cannot and will not recommend that you buy this set and I am truly, truly sorry to have to write that.

Read Best Reviews of A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage Deluxe Combo Blu-Ray DVD Edition Here


Blu-ray is EXACTLY what these ancient films need! Particularly due to Melies' continuous use of extreme long-shots, where detail is easily lost, it is awe-inspiring to FINALLY see how good Mèliés' filmstock really was, offering crisp, clear, sharp images. For example, in the Loading The Gun scene on the rooftops, you can actually see the cheeks and cute smile of the little French girl farthest in the back at the top left. And when Micromegas (the one who falls in the tub of nitric acid) flashes one of his frequent smiles, you can see his TEETH! Curiously, first-generation prints of Mèliés movies are not as clear as prints made later from existing negatives. Apparently in the first ten or twenty years of cinema, they didn't yet know how to make good prints. However, part of this restoration is a colorizing of a later black-and-white print, so while some of this movie, being from the original first-generation print, is way out of focus (like the astronomers preparing to sleep), other parts (that come from a restored B&W print?), like the rooftop scene, are as sharp and detailed as anything shot today in 35mm. A pleasure to see!

The restored color movie is self-recommending. If you have ANY interest in Melies, "A Trip to the Moon", movie restoration, or early cinema, then you MUST see this film. Just getting this film alone is worth the cost of the steelcase blu-ray/dvd set. AND you get the documentary about how this all came about. (By the way, it is an EXCELLENT and entertaining documentary on George Melies; it's the best I've seen, and for those interested in cinema history, this steelcase set is probably worth getting just for the documentary.)

Other reviewers can fill you in on the details about this particular film and its controversial sound track; which I actually like, by the way, in spite of a few annoying miscalculations on the part of the composers. (However, see my last paragraph.) So, rather than belabor all that, I will now go on to the "bonus" features:


Each soundtrack to every film is enjoyable, although I agree that an alternative should have been provided for the color version. The black-and-white version of "Trip..." has three soundtrack options, and they are all good. The voice-overs by the improv group are very funny, and a couple of times made me laugh out loud; but they seem to run out of ideas frequently, and there are long stretches without any voices at all. I actually wish they had kept up a patter all the way through.

Even better, the Robert Israel music-with-narration to the B&W version of "Trip to the Moon" is brilliant.

This is perfect on the recently-corrected blu-ray. However, on the DVD version with the narration, the sound IS A GOOD SECOND-AND-A-HALF AHEAD OF THE PICTURE. I find this incredibly annoying, as it creates an odd effect when the gun is fired and when the moon gets hit in the face. On BOTH blu-ray and dvd versions, the sound is late to the image on the movie "The Astronomer's Dream". This is a shame because the music is expertly composed to fit the action; you probably won't notice it being off, but I re-synced it and I found that when the music exactly matches the picture, many effects come across strikingly, but are way diminished with the sound being a tad late. For instance, the sudden appearance of The Devil almost makes you jump when the music is spot-on. Without being in sync it just looks ... eh...

Even worse, you can see ALL of Melies's junkie construction-paper backgroungs in the "Eclipse" movie. You can see exactly how he is sliding around his characters "in space", COMPLETELY destroying all magical illusion, which Melies would have hated. Just a little tweaking with the darks and the contrast fixes this, and should have been done before distributing it. As it is, before showing this to anyone, you will have to go through the movie and make adjustments to your monitor so your friends don't find the film tacky and stupid-looking. Also, the two short films are not offered from high-definition scans. They have been taken from a low-definition digital reproduction and are simply presented on blu-ray. So now you can more clearly see the edges of the pixels...

Now wouldn't you think that given this very, very, very special, heralded and limited edition that Flicker Alley would have SOMEONE doing "quality assurance"? I mean don't they have someone who watches the film on the b-r/dvd before they make thousands of copies and sell them? Inconceivably, apparently not...

The B&W version of "Trip" comes "from a fine-grain master derived from a nitrate print made available by the Méliès family." This is sharp and clear, but not clean: it has had little restoration and is full of speckles, flash-frames and splices. It is also beset with jitter and weave, making it a very difficult viewing experience. They could have stabilized the image without any reduction in detail, and this is proved by watching the documentary. In the documentary there is a section from "Moon..." and it is rock solid, yet with crystal sharp details. The image of this movie on the "Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema" dvd collection is cleaner and has little noticeable jitter. However the focus is not as detailed. (Just as a matter of interest: for the best ever reproduction of the film in black-and-white, EXTREMELY well-restored actually, with NO noticeable jitter-and-weave, go to and search that site for ""A la conquete du cinematographe". This will give you a 3-DVD set of Melies films (mostly of poorer quality than the Wizard set but with a few exceptions, and with some films not on any other set), with a book of beautiful photos (all the text is in French, however) by "STUDIOCANAL". Unfortunately, it also uses a musical accompaniment for "Trip to the Moon" that is a just-barely acceptable piano score.)

So, one star for Flicker Alley's poor quality assurance and inadequate presentation of the black-and-white films and for not giving us true high-definition with the shorts. Four-and-a-half stars for their presentation of the color version. Out of 5 stars, I give Melies 10 stars for the movie itself, and Technicolor 99 stars for putting together the fragmented pieces of the color print. (I took away 1 star because there is still a about two weeks' worth of easy if time-consuming digital work that could have been done to improve the film in its current "final" version, mostly to stabilize the images.)


This restoration has been ecstatically acclaimed by many; however, I find some of it very difficult to watch, especially the first two and penultimate scenes, because of the extreme jitter, and brutal changes in lighting, color, contrast and overall quality from frame-to-frame. I am very interested to hear from those of you who actually buy this product and watch this film: when you watch it do you, as I do, find yourself "white-knuckling" the arms of your chair, unconsciously preparing for when the film will break? Or do you just find this restoration beautiful and miraculous? Or...??? I know we all owe the teams who restored this film a tremendous round of applause for bringing this movie back to life... AND considering the money and effort put into this project, and how few people are interested in such things, I think $30+ is completely reasonable. I would have paid twice that amount. But I remain under the impression that the best compromise would have been to dump the worst sections of the color print they were trying to restore (that is, long sections of it), and instead replace it with restored and colorized versions of the best available black-and-white prints. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what the Technicolor people did do in short segments when the color print was just too severely damaged to repair, and their work is gorgeous. But what are your thoughts? And what about the other films on the dvd? Does it actually NOT bother you when sound is out of sync with the movie? Do you not care that the prints are so poorly presented that you see all those background seams and wrinkles, platforms, ramps, wheels and wires? Or am I the only one so insanely passionate about early cinema that I hope beyond hope that someone (Scorsese?) will bring together a team to truly restore Melies' films back to their original and, to whatever extent possible, pristine glory (as he did for snippets in "Hugo"), and remain unsatisfied until someone does?

Want A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage Deluxe Combo Blu-Ray DVD Edition Discount?

Thanks to Martin Scorsese and his movie HUGO, most of the world now knows who Georges Melies is and where that iconic shot of the Man in the Moon with a projectile stuck in his eye came from. Up until now A TRIP TO THE MOON has been available in several different editions of varying quality from pretty good to downright awful. I think it is safe to say that this version from Flicker Alley should be the last word on the subject for where is there left to go? Not only do we get to see the film in a restoration of its hand colored version but there is the best looking black & white version that I have ever seen and I've seen plenty. Although it's nice to have the hand colored version for viewing, I prefer the B&W one which resembles the 19th century illustrations of Gustave Dore'.

In addition to the two 15 minute versions there is a wonderful documentary, THE EXTRAORDINARY VOYAGE that traces the history of the film from its origins in 1902 to the discovery of the hand colored fragment in the 1990s that resulted in this restoration. As with previous Flicker Alley editions, there are numerous extras including two other Melies shorts with an astronomical theme THE ECLIPSE (1904) & THE ASTRONOMER'S DREAM (1898), a choice of musical backgrounds, and a booklet which gives background on Melies and how he made his films. Georges Melies thought A TRIP TO THE MOON to be one of his lesser works but acknowledged its popularity. I'm sure this deluxe set would have surprised and delighted him and he would have found the concept of DVDs not to mention Blu-Ray fascinating.

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