Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Phil goes Hollywood, Part 3: Phil attends the A TRIP TO THE MOON IN COLOR program at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences-Sept. 6, 2011

The Academy of Motion Picture building
Hello again and welcome back to my film adventures throughout Hollywood! Last night's journey took me to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences where they were having a fantastic program: A TRIP TO THE MOON IN COLOR & OTHER TRAVELS THROUGH TIME, COLOR & SPACE. Now I have always wanted to see a film program at the Academy, and with this extraordinary event, I could not pass up. So I drove out to Beverly Hills to witness this special screening of lost films!

The program was produced by the Academy's own Randy Haberkamp and hosted by French film historian Serge Bromberg and Tom Burton, the head of the Preservation Department at Technicolor. Bromberg is also the owner of Lobster Films, which his films are released through Flicker Alley, home to some of the greatest silent films of all time! The program was held inside of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy. There were numerous short films shown last night (which Bromberg also provided musical accompaniment), so let's get this show underway!

A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET - Miles Brothers (1906): I mentioned the importance of this film in my Essanay Earthquake blog, so please feel free to read about it here.

SAN FRANCISCO APRES LA CATASTROPHE - Pathe (1906): A two minute short French film about the destruction of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

METAMORPHOSES DU PAPILLON - Pathe (1904): Another French short film that chronicles the transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Also, the film was in color, hand painted one frame at a time.

THE ACROBATIC FLY - Charles Urban (1910): I saw this film this past July at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Read about it here.

LA PEINE DU TALION - Pathe (1906): Directed by Gaston Velle, it told the story of a butterfly catcher who is put on trial by the other insects of the woods: French dancers dress up as butterflies and grasshoppers, and is also a hand painted film.

FLIRT EN CHEMIN DE FER - Pathe (1902): A one minute short French film about a man who wants to make love to his wife on a train, then they go through a tunnel real quick, and they're interupted by the conductor. Talk about a quickie!!

APRES LE BAL - Melies (1897): Directed by George Melies, the film is a one minute short about a woman who comes home from a ball, gets undressed, and gets watered down by her maid. Quite titillating!

GWALIOR - Pathe (1907): A hand colored short documentary about the town of Gwalior, India. A fantastic and rare film!

JOY OF LIVING - (1934): Directed by Hector Hopkins and Anthony Gross, it was an amazing animated short film that you just have to see to believe. Breathtaking!

LA DONNA E MOBILE/ALS WIE SO TRUGERISCH - (1907): An early attempt of a sound film, the film has just some guy lip syncing to an actual recording of a famous opera singer. The performance was hilarious, but a rare film to see!

LES KIRIKIS - Pathe (1907): Directed by Segundo de Chomon, this was the funniest film I have ever seen! It has a family of actors pretending to be an Asian acrobatic family, and all their routines are performed on the floor with the camera right above them, but the film is shown in reverse to create the "acrobatics." Also worth noting, Bromberg had his sister hand paint each frame of the film!

BUNZLI SYSTEM - (1900): For the life of me, I'm drawing a blank on this film. Sorry, I'll get back to this one later. lol

The next batch of films were made by George Melies, who wanting to release his films simultaneously in America and Europe to beat the bootleggers, created a camera that could hold two reels of film so he could shoot his films for both markets. Not realizing it, Melies accidentally created 3D! So the these films were shown in 3D, the glasses provided by the Academy.

LA CHAUDRON INFERNAL - (1903): A hand painted film that features a demon throwing several woman into his cauldron, but their ghosts haunt him so he dives into his own cauldron.

L'ORACLE DE DEPLPHES - (1903): A short film that takes place in Egypt. A thief breaks into the tomb of Delphi to steal some valuable jewels, only to get caught by the ghost of Delphi himself, who places a curse upon the thief.

LA CORNUE INFERNALE - (1906): A wizard falls asleep and then a snake emerges and becomes a jester, a spider, and a woman that haunts the wizard in his sleep.

After all the shorts, it was time for the main attraction. The colorized version of A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) was thought to have never existed, but a chance meeting between Bromberg and the Barcelona Film Archives worked out a deal and Bromberg got to have the film. Unfortunately, it was already too far gone to save. So to try to get the information on the frames, they sped up the deteriorating process and slowly started to peel the film, and using digital cameras, took hi-def pictures of each frame of the film, all 13,471 frames!! After the entire film was photographed, they were taken to Tom Burton and his team spent about a year restoring this long, lost George Melies film!

A week after the restoration was completed, the film made its debut as the opening film at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it received a glorious ovation. They showed the film twice last night: the first time with a recoded score done by the rock band Air, and again with Bromberg on the piano and Randy Hamberkamp providing the narration. After the second screening, Burton hosted a powerpoint presentation on how they restored the film in astounding detail.

Inside the Goldwyn Theater
This was such a great experience for me! I never thought that I would see a film program at the Academy and I hope to to this again next time I come back here! If you would like to know about upcoming programs at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, visit their website at

If you are a fan George Melies, Flicker Alley has released the magnificent GEORGE MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1896-1913) boxset that is a must own. To purchase a copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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