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The India Rubber Head (1901)

L'homme à la tête en caoutchouc (original title)
A chemist carries out a bizarre experiment with his own head.

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A chemist in his laboratory places upon a table his own head, alive; then fixing upon his head a rubber tube with a pair of bellows, he begins to blow with all his might. Immediately the head increases in size and continues to enlarge until it becomes truly colossal while making faces. The chemist, fearing to burst it, opens a cock in the tube. The head immediately contracts and resumes its original size. He then calls his assistant and informs him of his discovery. The assistant, wishing to experiment for himself, seizes the bellows and blows into the head with all his might. The head swells until it bursts with a crash, knocking over the two experimenters. Written by Anonymous

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1901 (France)  »

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A gumifejű ember  »

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Basic and brief but try to remember that this was 100 years ago
19 July 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A chemist is hard at work in his laboratory creating a copy of his own head. When he succeeds he places it on a table and watches it animatedly respond to him. However, then he gets a pair of bellows and decides to see ho big he can make this rubber head by inflating it himself – with awful results.

Back when many films were very descriptive and very 'real' in their subjects, Méliès must have been a bewildering influence. Films called 'man riding a horse' were wowing them in the moving pictures (or movies as they are still called) by doing exactly what they said on the tin, or in other words, such a film would feature a man on a horse, a training coming into a station and so on. Méliès created short films that contain visual images that still retain their appeal today and will be known to many people (even if they don't know that they are his images!) and this is the modern appeal of his films to me. Sure they are simple in terms of substance and are more style over content but remember these are a century old – think of how they must have been viewed then!

This is one example but it is not one of his best for my money. The film is weird even watching it now and it is far more about visual impact than about its narrative foundation or substance. It looks great and some of the effects show him to have been years ahead of his time – anyone looking for meaning or plot will be annoyed but the focus is visuals and, in this regard, it still works and is very imaginative and funny. True, it is obvious now and we all know how the effects were done and what the joke is going to be, but it is impossible to watch this without being impressed by how visionary Méliès was and what an impact the sheer originality and imagination of this film must have made back then.

I have watched many rubbish films and many good films that have lasted two hours; this film lasts only a very minutes and is well worth the amount of time it took for me to watch it. Méliès' images are still in the public psyche today and this film, while not his most famous, is another good example of why that is the case.


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