One of the greatest of black art pictures. The conjurer appears before the audience, with his head in its proper place. He then removes his head, and throwing it in the air, it appears on ... See full summary »
At the royal court, a prince is presenting the princess whom he is pledged to marry, when a witch suddenly appears. Though driven off, the witch soon returns, summons some of her servants, ... See full summary »
Of all the beautiful stories ever told none are more interesting than Gulliver's Travels. How Gulliver set out on a journey and was shipwrecked on an island, where he found strange people, ... See full summary »
A man sleeps fitfully then dreams that a lovely woman is sitting at the foot of his bed. He reaches to embrace her and she becomes a minstrel, then Pierrot. The clown gestures to the moon ... See full summary »
This film is a winner, it being one of the most laughable of mysterious picture ever made. An extremely lean man and an extremely fat man are engaged in a wrestling match. The lean man ... See full summary »
A bearded magician holds up a large playing card and makes it larger. He tears up a card of a queen, burns the torn bits, and a life-size Queen of Hearts card appears; then, it becomes ... See full summary »
In this scene is shown a magician behind an ordinary table, upon which he suddenly and mysteriously causes to appear a large box, into which he leaps. The sides of the box fall to the ... See full summary »
A man dressed in red is ushered into an antechamber in a Castle and offered a seat. When he tried to sit down the chair moves to the other side of the room causing the man to fall on the ... See full summary »
Wintertime in Lyons. About a dozen people, men and women, are having a snowball fight in the middle of a tree-lined street. The cyclist coming along the road becomes the target of ... See full summary »
The clip shows a jockey, Domm, riding a horse, Sally Gardner. The clip is not filmed but instead consists of 24 individual photographs shot in rapid succession, making a moving picture when using a zoopraxiscope.
One of the greatest of black art pictures. The conjurer appears before the audience, with his head in its proper place. He then removes his head, and throwing it in the air, it appears on the table opposite another head, and both detached heads sing in unison. The conjurer then removes it a third time. You then see all three of his heads, which are exact duplicates, upon the table at one time, while the conjurer again stands before the audience with his head perfectly intact, singing in unison with the three heads upon the table. He closes the picture by bowing himself from the stage. Written by
"The Four Troublesome Heads" is one of the earliest surviving films by Georges Méliès to employ the multiple exposure technique, or superimposition effect. He used the technique earlier in "The Cabinet of Mephistopheles" (Le Cebinet de Méphistophélès)(1897), but it appears to be lost. (There's also a brief superimposition in "The Magician" (Le magicien)(1898), for a head on a stand.) It's uncertain whether Méliès or George Albert Smith introduced the trick to cinema, although what seems to be the earliest relevant film that I know of is the aforementioned film by Méliès. Smith tried to patent "the invention of double exposure applied to animated photography", but that was frivolous since the technique was already in use in still photography. Somewhere from around July to October 1898, Smith made at least six films that employed the trick. In "The Corsican Brothers", "Photographing a Ghost" and "The Mesmerist, or Body and Soul", Smith used multiple exposures to make transparent ghosts. He also used the technique, coupled with a masked camera lens, to create a scene-within-a-scene vision in "The Corscican Brothers", "Cinderella", "Faust and Mephistopheles" and "Santa Claus". In regards to masking the camera, Smith, indeed, seems to have introduced it to motion pictures. Méliès would later use masking for his multiple-exposure trick films, such as "A Mysterious Portrait" (Le Portrait Mystérieux) (1899) and "The One-Man Band" (L' Homme orchestre) (1900). Nevertheless, the uncertainty is somewhat moot given that Méliès and Smith are known to have had discussions around the time of these inventions, and both filmmakers were leaders in exploring the possibilities of motion pictures.
The superimpositions of "The Four Troublesome Heads" are not for ghosts, but, rather, are for four cloned heads of same texture; this effect of same texture is achieved with the black background. In this film, Méliès accomplished the headless and no body effects by masking himself with black clothing. Additionally, a dummy head was used while the Méliès with a body moved the heads to the table. For these transitions, Méliès employed his second essential trick of stop-substitutions (a.k.a. substitution splicing). The camera operator stopped the camera the scene was rearranged and filming resumed. They are essentially jump cuts touched up by post-production splicing. Méliès had already used the stop-substitution trick in such films as "The Vanishing Lady" (Escamotage d'une dame au théâtre Robert Houdin) (1896), and it would continue to be probably his most used trick during his film-making career.
Yet, these tricks are only of a technical and filmic history interest without Méliès's unique showmanship and enthusiasm, which was largely responsible for the immense popularity of his films in his own day and the preference of today's audiences for the films of Méliès over those by other early filmmakers. Méliès was, indeed, more cultured and absorbed with theatrical traditions than were his contemporaries. Later, filmmakers would surpass much of his theatrical style, but at the time of this film, he was leading the way with it.
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