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The Untamable Whiskers (1904)

Le roi du maquillage (original title)
The background of this picture represents a scene along the beautiful river Seine in Paris. A gentleman enters, and taking a blackboard from the side of the picture, he draws on it a sketch... See full summary »

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Storyline

The background of this picture represents a scene along the beautiful river Seine in Paris. A gentleman enters, and taking a blackboard from the side of the picture, he draws on it a sketch of a novelist. Then, standing in the centre, he causes the living features of his sketch to appear in the place of his own, which is utterly devoid of whiskers. The change is made so mysteriously that the eye cannot notice it until one sees quite another person in the place of the first. Again another sketch is shown on the board, this one being that of a miser; then an English cockney; a comic character; a French policeman, and last of all, the grinning visage of Mephistopheles. It is almost impossible to give this film a more definite description; suffice it to say that it is something entirely new in motion pictures and is sure to please. Written by Méliès Catalog

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Short | Fantasy

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Release Date:

5 March 1904 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Untamable Whiskers  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Edited into Méliès, los Orígenes (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Special effects magic show
20 March 2000 | by (Gainesville, FL) – See all my reviews

I watched this as one of the shorts on The magic of Melies video cassette released by Kino on Video, 1994. Image quality was good. Music was chipper and matched the lighthearted mood of the film. No color was added. Cropping did not appear to interfere with the film, although it is hard to tell without titles. This should give an idea of the technical quality of the release I watched.

This film was mainly done to show off a particular special effect. A magician draws pictures on a chalkboard, and then his facial hair grows to fit the image he has drawn. This is part magic act, part comic routine. It is amusing, but special effects are so common today that it is not amazing, as it must have been to the people who first viewed it. Basically an image of the magician with one type of hair fades into an image of the same magician in the same position with another type of hair. The quality of this special effect is fairly good, so it didn't seem cheap, just redundant.

My recommendation is to watch it if you are interested in very early film history. It is a good example of a setup that is similar to a booth or simple theater show, but depicts something that could never be shown live. This film predates plots being the norm in movies, and itself has no plot.


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