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Gulliver's Travels (1902)

Le voyage de Gulliver à Lilliput et chez les géants (original title)
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 »

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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, so small that a hundred of them full size could safely repose in the hollow of his hand. How he fell asleep, was discovered by the inhabitants of the island and securely bound with thousands of feet of cord and made to promise to do everything he was told under pain of instant death. He became a favorite with the people, who finally trusted him, but his roving nature would not permit him to settle there permanently. A most interesting part of this film is in which the King and Queen arrive to look on the giant from a strange land, and as the Queen arrives and sits down, Gulliver immediately lifts her upon the table, upon which he has prepared his food, and the Queen and he hold intercourse, after which he again places her and the receptacle in which she is carried, to the ground. Immediately after a... Written by Lubin Catalog

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Short | Fantasy

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13 April 1903 (USA)  »

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Gulliver's Travels  »

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(hand colored)

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1.33 : 1
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Superimposed Scale
4 April 2010 | by See all my reviews

By "The Man with the Rubber Head" (L'homme à la tête en caoutchouc)(1901), Georges Méliès had figured out that he could use multiple exposures (superimpositions) of the negative to create an image that was smaller or larger than another image. Méliès was the most clever of early filmmakers, and he specialized in exploiting cinematic tricks, mostly for single-scene trick attractions, but also in adaptations of classic fairy tales and fantasy voyage stories, so it was only a matter of time after he discovered the aforementioned effect that he would adapt Swift's novel involving the tiny people of Lilliput and the giants of Brobdingnag.

Of course, five scenes in about four minutes can hardly render any novel very well. The film only provides visual cues, or selected moments from the book, to the spectator, who then need to have knowledge of the source or, back then, have the film explained to them by a lecturer. Similar non self-contained early film literary selections included "Scrooge; or, Marley's Ghost" (1901), "Alice in Wonderland" (1903), "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1903), and earlier story films by Méliès, such as "Cinderella" (Cendrillon)(1899). It seems Méliès wasn't even concerned with adapting the story (which he really didn't do), but in using the popular source as a container for his scaled multiple-exposure tricks.

In the film's first scene, a miniature set is used to create the scale that Gulliver has come upon a race of very small people. Throughout the rest of the film, multiple-exposure photography manipulates scale. The effect is rather shaky when the two images share a similar amount of space in the frame, as in scenes two and three. Also of interest is that a hand-colored print of this film is available today, which includes some especially good skin coloring. Additionally, scenes are transitioned by dissolves, which is a technique Méliès began using in "Cinderella" and which other filmmakers adopted as well.


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