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This is one of the earlier displays of the wit and camera wizardry of
movie pioneer Georges Méliès. The idea is a simple one, but by no means
an easy one to carry off using the resources of the time. Méliès also
adds a few interesting details to the high-quality camera tricks.
The same idea was used later on by other silent screen comedians, most notably by Buster Keaton in his wonderful feature, "The Playhouse". This much earlier movie is quite a bit simpler, but considering its era it is almost as impressive. Méliès plays a band-leader and each member of the band, using multiple exposures and other carefully crafted special effects to create an amusing scene.
As Méliès gained even more experience, his features often added lavishly detailed settings to the fine visual effects. This 1900 movie relies mostly on the central idea, without too much background detail, but his technique is already excellent, and this is one of many entertaining Méliès features that demonstrate his considerable creativity and skill.
Georges Melies was the founder of special effects in movies. Its really
quite wonderful watching these little shorts: imagine you had the
opportunity to realise for the first time the things that were possible with
filmed images. By filming a scene, then removing or moving one element and
filming it again and editing the two shots together you can make things
disappear or jump from one side of the room to the other. This is true
magic, and watching Melies discover these things is a special thing i'm glad
i've had the opportunity to see.
Aside from this value, the shorts still retain their immense fun for audiences an entire century after their creation. Now THAT is called staying power.
In this short, Melies clones himself six times to fill six seats of an orchestra, then makes the seats disappear, then reappear, then makes himself disappear in a cloud of smoke. The music, i believe is Robert Israel, a great modern composer who's been doing us the honour of writing scores for many great silent movies, which adds immeasurably to our enjoyment of them.
At the turn of the century, Georges Méliès' amazing shorts were the
most famous motion pictures of the world, as his highly creative and
technically innovative "Cinemagic" had proved that cinema was not only
a quite useful device for scientific purposes, but also a very
promising new way of entertainment. Méliès' most famous works are
without a doubt the fantasy movies he made in the first decade of the
20th century, where he used all his special effects tricks to narrate
stories of magic, horror and science fiction as the first director of
fiction movies in history (1902's "Le Voyage Dans la lune" is an icon
of cinema history). However, his earlier films, a collection of shorts
where a magician makes impossible tricks, are as amazing as his
stories, as it was in those early shorts where he polished his
technique and singlehandedly invented the art of special effects.
1900's short film "L' Homme Orchestre" (Known in English as "The One-Man Band") is one of those movies that would set the basis for what would become his trademark "Cinemagic" in the years to come. In this short film, the magician (as usual, played by Méliès himself) prepares for his next trick by putting seven chairs for the members of his band even when there is no sign of anyone else in the place. Suddenly, the magician sits in one of the chairs, and after he rises, a cymbal player appears sit on the chair the magician used to be. The magician moves to the next chair and repeats the trick, appearing another band member in the process, and he continues doing the same until the six chairs are occupied by a member of his orchestra. The magician has successfully replicated himself six times in order to play a song like truly a "One-Man Band".
True to his theatrical style and his training as a magician, in "L' Homme Orchestre" director Georges Méliès conceived a charming and very funny way to show off a camera trick he had discovered a few years before and was truly mastering by this stage: multiple exposures. Mixing this quite interesting property of film with his great skill at editing, Georges Méliès crafted an effect that flows seamlessly and in a very fluid way. However, the movie is more than a camera trick, as the funny way that Méliès uses to set his film (making good use of pantomime) enhances the atmosphere and overall makes for a better experience. While Méliès made the multiple exposures trick very popular, and soon most of the early pioneers began to use it in their films too, it was his care for the building of the story what made his films feel different, more like a complete show and less like a mere "gimmick film".
By 1900, Méliès' films had already started to be studied and imitated by many other pioneers, who followed the path traced by the "Cinemagician" in the discovery and development of the mysteries of the new art. While people like Edwin S. Porter and Ferdinand Zecca had quickly mastered the tricks that Méliès discovered (even imitating his style and plots), Méliès' were still superior in both technical achievement and artistic conception. In the following years Méliès would continue the development of this and many other effects, and his efforts would be crowned with the release of his fantasy films, where he exploited his tools to bring fairy tales to screen. "L' Homme Orchestre" is probably not one of Méliès' best known films, but it's historical importance and beautiful craftsmanship makes it a joy to watch even today, more than 100 years after its release. 7/10
One of the visual effects that French "Cinemagician" Georges Méliès
pioneered and mastered was the double exposure, in which a piece of
film is exposed twice, to two different images. The resulting
photographic image shows the second image superimposed over the first.
'L' Homme orchestre' is, for its time, a rather advanced experiment
into his effect, and, rather than just two images captured together,
Méliès has created seven clones of himself, each posing as the various
members of an orchestra. As the first magician/musician eases himself
onto the first chair, another semi-transparent double rises from his
body to occupy the second chair, and so forth.
After the enthusiastic "one-man band" has performed a musical piece, they sequentially dissolve into one another, leaving only the conductor of the orchestra, who hangs around for one final display of magic. As a large fan emerges behind him (apparently to his complete surprise, as Méliès demonstrates one of those classic silent comedy double-takes), the conductor takes a seat on the single remaining chair, which sinks into the floor. Quick as a flash, a semi-transparent Méliès comes hurtling from behind the fan, disappearing on impact with the floor with one of those whiz-bang puffs of smoke that the director so adored. The huge fan lowers again to reveal a smugly-grinning Méliès standing there, safe and well.
More than a century after it was produced, 'L' Homme orchestre,' though not popularly known among most people, is notable in its innovative use of a newly-discovered visual effect, and as a brief demonstration of Georges Méliès' boundless creativity and enthusiasm. If you've got a couple of minutes of spare time, why not occupy yourself by watching this enjoyable little film?
Director Méliès later went on to make several other shorts where he
acted and replicated himself (in two cases, popping off his head and
using it to make a whole bunch of singing heads), but I think this is
one of the earliest of this type of film (the first coming in 1898).
But, instead of pulling off his head, he is able replicate himself many
times until he is an entire performing ensemble. While compared to
later trick cinematography this isn't a great special effect, for its
day it was amazing and quite funny. For a similar type experience
(though of course a lot better because of advancements in camera-work),
see Buster Keaton's THE PERFORMANCE--where he not only plays all the
performers, but all the members of the audience (including the women)!
If you want to see this film online, go to Google and type in "Méliès" and then click the video button for a long list of his films that are viewable without special software.
"The One-Man Band" is one of early cinema pioneer Georges Méliès's more amusing and ingenious trick film attractions. It exploits multiple-exposure photography (a.k.a. superimpositions), which he had already employed in some of his earlier trick films, including "The Four Troublesome Heads" (1898) and "The Mysterious Portrait" (1899). There is also some substitution splicing (a.k.a. stop substitutions), which was Méliès's most common trick. In this film, he uses multiple-exposure photography to reproduce his own image sevenfoldto create a band, who then play their various instruments in an amusingly hammy manner. To accomplish this feat took precise acting and direction from Méliès, as well as from his cameraman; camera masks were used and exact timing was required for the seven different exposures of the negative. It was all done in-camera. As indication of the sophistication of Méliès's trick here, Buster Keaton has received praise for technical and creative brilliance by doing the same thing 21 years later in "The Playhouse".
In this short film Georges Mélies makes the first use of double-exposing, making seven "clones" of Himself playing an orchestra. The trick is now easy to do, but then it was quite expensive to film seven different shots to one roll of film. Although Mélies makes a professional and well-coordinated work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George Melies does it again! In this film, he is presenting an orchestra - - of himself! He sits in a chair and a clone of him with an instrument is there. He repeats this trick a few more times, and they all play a song. After they do that, they all merge back together. Melies takes a bow. This film shows they can take it beyond the limits in very early cinematography. This early flick shows the possibilities that cinema can hold, and if I was watching the premiere of this picture, I would've been astonished. If this movie was newer, I probably would rate it lower, but since it's from 1900, I'll be happy to give this movie an eight out of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the shortest film I've reviewed. It's also the second one I've reviewed that was directed by Georges Melies. It's very interesting seeing as how Melies makes clones of himself and considers that the band. I would have given it 7 stars but I gave it 6 because It's a silent film. Now don't get me wrong I still love silent films but I wouldn't be focusing on this silent film aspect if the movies title didn't have the word band in it. You know there is a band, and that it's simply a bunch of clones. But we can't even hear what it's playing. It does however manage to be pretty interesting. Overall it's fairly good. But it's got flaws.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In The One-Man Band, Georges Melies uses multiple exposure photography to show himself as several band members playing different instruments in unison. Melies also continues to use jump-cut editing to make objects appear and disappear (the chairs in this case) and advance the action. The work it must have taken Melies to synchronize the footage must have been extraordinary. Just as Melies makes the likenesses of himself as band members appear, he makes them disappear also echoing the many other previous films he's done with creating a scenario and then dismantling it in the context of a sole creator/creative force. *** of 4 stars.
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