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 »
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 »
The conjurer appears at a blackboard and shows the head of a knight on it. He seizes the picture of the head, removes it from the blackboard, and it turns into life and bows and smiles ... See full summary »
The scene opens in an artist's studio where the unfinished statue of William Tell stands upon a pedestal. A clown appears and sticks a clay arm and clay head on the statue, thus completing ... See full summary »
A weary traveler stops at an inn along the way to get a good night's sleep, but his rest is interrupted by odd happenings when he gets to his room--beds vanishing and re-appearing, candles ... See full summary »
This appears to be Geroges Méliès's earliest (surviving) film to feature a matte shot. George Albert Smith had already employed the trick in several films, including, the only one that survives today, "Santa Claus" (1898), where he used a matte shot to feature a scene-within-a-scene and, thus, show parallel action without crosscutting. In "The Mysterious Portrait", Méliès used multiple-exposure photography to duplicate himselfplacing himself inside a portrait and outside of it. Méliès had already used multiple-exposure photography in prior films, including "The Four Troublesome Heads" (1898), but they weren't matte shots. For this film, he had to mask the camera, which, for one, allows the second exposure to appear clearly against a white or light background, as in this film. It's the same trick used in the early film-within-films, beginning with Robert W. Paul's "The Countryman and the Cinematograph" (1901) and which include Méliès's own "The Magic Lantern" (1903). For the out of blur appearance and blurry disappearance of Méliès's framed double, the focus of the camera lens was adjusted during the second filming.
As historian John Frazer ("Artificially Arranged Scenes") has said, "The Mysterious Portrait" is self-referential: "Méliès was reveling in the devices of film-making, making the appreciation of his cleverness the actual subject." The film begins with Méliès rolling up a backdrop to reveal another backdrop, thus exposing and calling attention to the film's own artificiality. Méliès's doppelgänger is a self-reflexive device mirroring the doubling, reproduced nature of cinema. As Frazer said, "Méliès was the first filmmaker who deliberately pushed himself into the illusion of the film. He was conscious of making films and informing his audience that it was watching a film . Méliès let everyone know that he was watching artifice and fiction."
(Note: Print shows some bleeding and many scratches indicative of considerable deterioration, but is still viewable.)
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?