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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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Playful and inventive Méliès film
9 November 2010 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

The story in this film is about a magician who devises a contraption in which to inflate objects; in this case a replica of his own head.

Similar to other Georges Méliès short films, L'Homme à la Tête en Caoutchouc is based around a special effect. You could say it was a magic trick on film. Méliès was a conjurer so this is perhaps not surprising. To modern eyes it seems a little gimmicky but in the early days of cinema no one had actually worked out how to tell a narrative via the medium, therefore, many early films were showcases for illusions. In this case Méliès incorporated multiple exposures with zooms, which made it look as if the head was growing ever larger and larger. It's a crude yet effective effect and really illustrates the ingenuity and imagination of Méliès. I always find it quite incredible how those early cinema pioneers almost immediately started thinking about using the medium to show the impossible. They hadn't quite learned how to tell a story of any complexity but in films like this they were starting to incorporate their tricks within simple narratives. This is a playful little film that is somewhat amusing.


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