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Georges Méliès Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (24)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 8 December 1861Paris, France
Date of Death 21 January 1938Paris, France
Birth NameMarie Georges Jean Méliès

Mini Bio (1)

Georges Melies, a professional magician by training, first saw the new "moving pictures" in 1895. Little over a year later, Melies was filming and projecting his own creations. By accident, he discovered that he could use stop-motion photography to render trick visual effects. Melies was also the first to use techniques such as the fade-in, the fade-out, and the dissolve to create the first real narrative films. Melies made over 500 films, but his most famous - A Trip to the Moon (1902) (Voyage to the Moon). Still, Melies, trained in classic eighteenth century theater, conceived all of his films in terms of fully played-out scenes. Unable to keep up with the changing industry, the end of his life was wrought with poverty, yet his films would be monumental stepping stones for great auteurs such as D.W. Griffith.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Kaminsky <kaminsky@ucsee.eecs.berkeley.edu>

Spouse (2)

Jeanne d'Alcy (1925 - 21 January 1938) (his death)
Eugénie Génin (June 1885 - 1913) (her death) (2 children)

Trivia (24)

D.W. Griffith said about Melies, "I owe him everything."
Charles Chaplin said he was "the alchemist of light."
His grave is situated in the Père Lachaise cemetery (Paris, France)
He built the first movie studio in Europe.
Is regarded as "The Father of Special Effects."
He was the first to use production sketches and storyboards.
On December 28, 1895, he was a member of the first audience in the world to see the Lumiere brothers' Cinematographe.
He tried to buy Cinematographe equipment from the Lumieres but they refused to sell to him. He got into the film business by buying a projector from Robert W. Paul and buying a Bioscope camera.
His first films, like those of the Lumieres, were simple life scenes which he added to the program at his theatre, the Theatre Robert-Houdin. He later filmed scenes of himself doing magic tricks.
Melies worked with two engineers at his theatre workshop to build a camera of his own. The first prototype weighed over 75 pounds.
While shooting one of his life scenes in the Place de l'Opera in Paris, the camera jammed. It took about a minute to clear the problem and resume shooting. When the film was processed and screened, Melies saw a bus suddenly turn into a hearse; people in the scene suddenly appeared or disappeared. This accident led to his discovery of stop motion trickery which became his first filmic special effects technique. This stop motion technique had previously been discovered and used by Thomas A. Edison, but Melies made extensive use of it in his short films.
He considered the United States such an important market that his company had an office there. Many of his production sketches and storyboards were captioned in English as well as French.
By the time he left film production, he had created over 500 films.
When he discontinued film production, Melies himself reportedly destroyed the original elements of most of his films.
The Theatre Robert-Houdin was closed in 1914 as a result of World War I. This sent him into bankruptcy.
The French surrealist movement in the 1920s brought about a rediscovery of Méliès' surviving films, and the acknowledgment of his contributions to the art and the industry of motion pictures. Eventually this led to his being awarded the Legion of Honor in 1931.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 747-765. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Was cinema's first real fantasist. Considered the absolute greatest fictional fantatsist of his time.
Had all of his early equipment (projectors, printers and processing equipment) custom made from designs of others (namely the Lumiere's) that he had improved on.
His brother Gaston Méliès helped his older brother in his screenplays and film productions, and in 1903 he opened a sales office in New York City to market his films in the US. They published a film catalog with extensive descriptions in English. In that period, Georges would shoot two negatives of each of his films, one of which would be sent to the States. After his bankruptcy, younger brother Henri Méliès was most helpful running the family shoe factory in London.
Before getting into motion pictures, his jobs, which he reportedly loved, included work as a conjurer, illusionist and theater owner/manager. It was this background that fueled his imagination in regards to making motion pictures. Unlike the Lumiere Brothers, especially director Louis Lumière, Georges didn't think that the cinema was simply for recording, films actualities and taking snapshots of reality. Instead, he considered the medium a perfect vehicle to further escape for an audience.
Showed the first versions of movie trailers by projecting images above the entrance of the Théârte Robert Houdin, Paris in 1898. This gave passers-by an idea of what was inside and on the actual screen.
Founded the Théâtre Robert-Houdin in France in 1896.

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