Flicker Alley's From The Earth To The Moon

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by bigshot, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

    Jan 30, 2008
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    I wasn't going to get this set, but the film group I volunteer for bought it for me. It is one of the most frustrating videos I have ever seen.
    The color version of "A Trip To The Moon" looks very nice. But after watching the documentary on how it was restored, it's pretty clear that not one single frame of it is actually taken from the original color print. They assigned frame numbers to each frame, corresponding the badly decomposed hand tinted version with a B&W print in good condition. Then they used the hand tinted version as a color key for colorizing the B&W version. They never say this in the film, but they do say that in the original hand colored print, no more than five frames in sequence every survived intact. There were gaps scattered every few frames throughout the whole film. They show a colorist recreating the hand tinting for combining with the B&W print, and he turns off the film layer to show his tinting layer and it is continuous rotoscoped throughout the whole scene. Also, they state that the color print was tinted yellow overall throughout, but after the restoration, the colors are applied over B&W.
    That said, the colorizing does a very good job of mimicking the look of dye tinting. I wouldn't know it was computer colorized if I didn't see how they did it.
    The documentary is very good, and it gives tantalizing 1080p clips from Melies films not on the bluray. It's clear that they didn't necessarily pick the bonus films because they would look best in hidef, they picked them because they had an astronomical theme. That's a shame, because on my projection system, the improvement in image quality of the bluray over Flicker Alley's DVD Melies sets isn't all that great on "The Eclipse".
    The B&W version of "A Trip To The Moon" is missing the voice over narration Melies wrote for it. Flicker Alley is going to fix that and do a disk replacement program when the corrected pressing is ready. The music on the documentary and B&W versions are very good.
    But this brings me to the most infuriating part of this disk...
    The color version of "A Trip To The Moon" has only one soundtrack, and it is the WORST soundtrack I have ever heard added to a silent film. The old Blackhawk needle drops and the dreadful Clubfoot Keaton are better than this. The music sounds like the bastard child of Pink Floyd and 1970s porno movie soundtracks. It doesn't hit a single accent in the film. During chase scenes it noodles along aimlessly. Explosions happen on the screen as the underwater synth sounds loop on and on. The music makes the film seem boring, and that's quite a trick. I have no idea why they used this track in the first place, and I'm even more baffled why they provided no alternative. I can't watch the color version with this soundtrack. The whole reason for buying this disk and the thing the documentary is building up is totally ruined by lousy music.
    Flicker Alley did a great job of packaging this... the case is beautiful. The documentary is interesting. But there is nothing for all of it to be backing up. Three short B&W films that only look marginally better than DVD and a beautiful colorized version with a soundtrack that renders it unwatchable. What a waste!

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