The background of this picture represents a scene along the beautiful river Seine in Paris. A gentleman enters, and taking a blackboard from the side of the picture, he draws on it a sketch... 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 Chinese conjurer stands next to a table, it becomes two tables. A fan becomes a parasol, lanterns appear and disappear. The conjurer spins the open parasol in front of himself, and a dog ... See full summary »
A combination gambling den and bawdy house is set up so that croupiers, patrons, prostitutes, and the owner can quickly change it all into a mercantile establishment when the cops stage a ... 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 »
Pluto, having seen the earth, comes back home amazed at the success of that well-known dance, the "cake-walk." He has brought back with him two noted well-known dancers, who start their ... See full summary »
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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