Melies is best known for his 1902 version of VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE and he worked in an enormous variety of genres -- today we would call them genres, but at the time, he was just turning out stuff to fill in at his theater and to sell to people who wanted to show movies. But he began as a stage magician and although he incorporated stage magic into his films and invented cinematic magic via cuts, masking and other method, he remained a magician to the end and this film, about two minutes in length, is the best pure example of stage magic in his surviving films. Yes, there are lots of camera tricks, but it comes out as stage magic. And, looking at recent movies about stage magicians, like THE PRESTIEGE, you begin to see how much presence the role requires -- he has it.
This is one of the many previously lost or infrequently seen Melies pictures that have been made available by Serge Bromberg, David Shepherd and a myriad of other hands in the newly issued DVD set GEORGES MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA. Required viewing for anyone interested in the history of movies ..... and a lot of fun.
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