x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The band Air scores classic film

A rerelease of George Méliès' classic 1902 film A Trip to the Moon features a soundtrack by French electronic duo Air.

Among the highlights of this year's festival for fans of cinema's history was the screening of A Trip to the Moon, the 1902 silent classic from George Méliès.

It is considered to be the first science-fiction film and was painstakingly restored in colour after it was thought to be lost forever.

Méliès died in 1938, but French electronic duo Air - who did the soundtrack for the newly remastered version of the film - were in town to give a masterclass on their music, which accompanies the otherwise silent, legendary 16-minute piece of filmmaking.

"We were actually searching for a new concept for a new album and then we were told about this film," said Jean-Benoît Dunckel on how Air became involved in the project.

"It was exactly what we wanted at this stage of our career," said Nicolas Godin, adding that the current state of the music business sometimes makes it depressing simply to make music for records.

In terms of making the soundtrack, the band - who also composed the music for Sofia Coppola's 1999 film The Virgin Suicides - said that the fact the film was already completed made it somewhat easier.

"When you do a soundtrack, the movie maker always usually changes the edit of the pictures," said Dunckel.

Watching the 109-year-old film while putting together the music became a rather spiritual and historical experience for the band.

"I was watching the faces of the actors in the film and felt really close to them," said Godin. "For us, a black and white silent movie is the past, and you never imagine that the people who did it at the time were actually young - they were part of a new trend at the time."

This realisation helped shape the sounds the band laid on top.

"That was the key to creating the music, and for a movie so old, I think we made the freshest music that we've ever done before."

Like The Virgin Suicides, Air said they now intend to release the soundtrack to A Trip to the Moon as their next album, which is due out early next year.

French electronic music seems to be the current bedfellow of sci-fi films, with Daft Punk having famously put together the soundtrack for last year's Tron: Legacy.

"What is cool about it is that when I heard that Daft Punk were scoring Tron, I thought: this is exactly the movie that fits them. And when we were asked to do A Trip to the Moon, I thought: this is exactly the movie for us.

"Something very strange happened last year."