STORY BY: Amber Bravo , VIDEO: Maia Stern
In 1902, Georges Méliès made a movie about traveling to the moon. Obviously, at that point, nobody had actually been there, and, for all anybody knew, there were magical mushrooms, mysterious lagoons and frog-like aliens living on that bright, big-faced orb. Clocking in at under 15 minutes, Le Voyage dans la lune was considered a feature-length film at the time, with a somewhat protracted intro scene to allow time for theater owners to explain what a movie was (i.e., this is a projector, it runs celluloid through some reels and projects it with light and lenses, etc., etc.). Méliès made two versions of his film, one in black and white and the other painstakingly hand-painted frame by frame. For many years, the later was thought lost forever, until a full version (en super mal estado) was found in Barcelona in 1993, sparking a years-long project to restore the film frame by frame.
To celebrate this remarkable feat of film preservation, Air was invited to soundtrack the film for its representation at Cannes last year. It also inspired the band to extend those 15 minute episodes into a longer, full-length album (out February 7th, preorder here) featuring guest tracks from Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Au Revoir Simone. Air stopped by the FADER office to chat with us about the process of making sounds for this iconic film (which is public domain and which many ’90s kids know best from Smashing Pumpkins’ video for “Tonight, Tonight”), and how the moon, in general, seems to have a tidal pull on their creative output. Check out the interview, above, and clips from the full-color, Air-soundtracked version and the full-length, black-and-white version, below.
Clips of the full-color version, soundtracked by Air: