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The Magic of Méliès (1997)

La magie Méliès (original title)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Méliès (voice)
Marina Moncade ...
La Narratrice (voice)
Charles-Antoine Decroix ...
Le Bonimenteur (voice)
Abdul Alafrez ...
Le Magicien
Claire Mosser ...
Partenaire du Magicien
Didier Cremer ...
Alain Kanto ...
Le Lanterniste
Philippe Duval ...
François Riou ...
La main qui dessine
Clara Mény ...
Madeleine enfant
Madeleine Malthête-Méliès ...
Christian Fechner ...
Laurent Mannoni ...
Jacques Malthête ...
Anne-Marie Malthête-Quévrain ...


The Magic Of Melies

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Release Date:

28 March 2005 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Georges Melies - O magos tou kinimatografou  »

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User Reviews

Enthusiasm on Film
1 May 2004 | by See all my reviews

This excellent documentary encompasses the life and films of Georges Méliès. I have seen many halfhearted attempts at documenting filmmakers' lives on film, so this was a pleasant surprise. Méliès took his enthusiasm and magic from his Robert Houdin Theatre and projected it onto the silver screen--films full of trick shots and wacky humour. Director Jacques Meny's documentary displays all the zest of a Méliès short film.

Méliès was more consistent and consistently entertaining than his contemporary filmmakers. Nevertheless, that consistency would be his downfall, as others surpassed his theatrical style and developed continuity editing and used natural settings, as well as more adroit business tactics and larger outpouring of product. At once, Méliès was atop the cinema world, yet would end up burning his films.

Meny looks at Méliès from various angles: discussing his life, his film-making, his films and the world that influenced him. Various techniques are used to tell the story: film clips, photographs and artwork, interviews, reenactments and first-person narration. The most impressive are the use of a miniature reconstruction of Méliès's studio and demonstrations of how he did the trick shots and other special effects. Yet, they made the mistake of placing the English voiceovers on top of the muffled original French in the translated version. Either use subtitles or rid the original language completely for the voiceovers.

The documentary is not strictly chronological. There is no scene-by-scene dissection of "A Trip to the Moon" here, or just boring talking heads; the focus is on the enthusiasm, the magic, of Méliès via the enthusiasm of his admirers. With any other early filmmaker--the Lumiére brothers, Edwin S. Porter, D.W. Griffith--such emotional appeals would perhaps be sappy. Méliès, however, was so vivacious that here they serve harmony and poignancy.

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