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The One-Man Band More at IMDbPro »L'homme orchestre (original title)

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

An Early Touch of Wizardry & Wit From Méliès

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
13 September 2005

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.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Inventive Melies.

Author: Ben_Cheshire from Oz
27 March 2004

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.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Méliès symphony

7/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
13 June 2007

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?

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Another nice short film by the master...

7/10
Author: José Luis Rivera Mendoza (jluis1984) from Mexico
20 April 2007

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

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

For 1900, great stuff

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
2 September 2006

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.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Tricky

Author: Cineanalyst
16 September 2009

"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 sevenfold—to 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".

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

the best of Mélies

Author: ufocska from Budapest, Hungary
10 May 2003

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.

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It's good.

6/10
Author: ofpsmith from United States
26 November 2013

*** 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.

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Melies Continues Development Of Trick Photography

7/10
Author: CitizenCaine from Las Vegas, Nevada
23 November 2012

*** 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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The Magnificent Seven

6/10
Author: wes-connors from Earth
22 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

French magician and filmmaker Georges Melies has seven chairs lined up across your movie screen. He appears dressed as a musician and takes a seat, then a super-imposed Mr. Melies rises, with cymbals, from the first sitting Melies and sits in the second seat. From the second seat, a drumming Melies moves on to the next seat. This goes on until all seven seats are filled with different members of an instrumental orchestra. Melies plays each part. They perform enthusiastically for the audience and meld back into the original Melies. He is a one man band!

****** L'homme orchestre (1900) Georges Melies ~ Georges Melies

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