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Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjuror (1904)

Le thaumaturge chinois (original title)
Not Rated | | Short, Fantasy | 30 April 1904 (USA)
A Chinese conjurer stands next to a table, it becomes two tables. A fan becomes a parasol, lanterns appear and disappear. The conjurer spins the open parasol in front of himself, and a dog ... See full summary »

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A Chinese conjurer stands next to a table, it becomes two tables. A fan becomes a parasol, lanterns appear and disappear. The conjurer spins the open parasol in front of himself, and a dog leaps out from behind it. The dog becomes a woman, then a second woman appears. The conjurer sits them each on a box a few feet apart: suddenly the women have changed places. The disappearing and the transfers continue in front of a simple backdrop. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated
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30 April 1904 (USA)  »

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Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjuror  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Effects in this film were achieved with a combination of double exposure, theatrical tricks (standard live theatrical illusions), clever make-up and heavy editing techniques (many of the them invented or perfected by Melies). See more »

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

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User Reviews

 
Méliès the Eastern magician
11 April 2007 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Dressed in Chinese costume and make-up, Georges Méliès is almost unrecognisable, though he does bring to this film that passionate enthusiasm that is evident in every single one of his works. Having worked as a stage magician prior to acquiring an interest in cinema, the director and performer is certainly in his element here, making lamp shades turn into dogs, dogs turn into women, and then a woman into a flock of chickens. He employs many of his usual camera tricks – substitutions, cross dissolves – and most of them are relatively seamless.

However, in this case, Méliès' usual clever camera-work serves somehow to lessen the films impact, rather than enhance it. This film basically being a staged magic act, it is somewhat disheartening to already know that most of "magic tricks" were achieved simply through camera tricks, rather than the elaborate, creative stunts of deception that would ordinarily be demanded of a traditional stage magician. What worked in countless other Méliès shorts simply didn't work here. This has nothing to do with the quality of the actual work, but merely with the context in which it is used.

Having said that, however, there is absolutely no reason why somebody should not watch 'Tchin-Chao: The Chinese Conjurer' for a few minutes of light entertainment. Some of the tricks are quite fun and imaginative, and it certainly looks like, as always, Méliès himself is having a grand time!


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