Georges Méliès

"Besides the Biograph company, the most significant newcomer to motion pictures after the first wave of screen projections was the magician Georges Méliès… Méliès brought the fantastic to the cinema - he was heir to the screen tradition of Robertson's Fantasmagorie. He has been credited as originator or precursor of such long-lasting film genres as horror, science fiction, and dark comedy." - Robert Sklar (Film: An International History of the Medium, 1993)

Georges Méliès

Director / Actor / Producer / Screenwriter / Production Designer / Editor
(1861-1938) Born December 8, Paris, France
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: France
Key Genres: Short Film, Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure, Science Fiction, Space Adventure, Avant-garde/Experimental
Key Collaborators: Jeanne d'Alcy (Leading Actress), Fernande Albany (Leading Actress), Bleuette Bernon (Leading Actress)

"When Méliès, a Paris magician, saw the Lumière's first film show in 1895 he could see the possibilities for even more spectacular illusions. He proceeded to pioneer most of the techniques of special effects, creating magical transformations and trick films using stop-motion, double exposure, split screen, miniatures and playful editing, in tandem with the elaborate painted sets of the period. While the Lumières were busy recording daily events and locales, Méliès created his own fantasy worlds, making scores of ingenious, charming shorts which transported audiences to outer space, undersea kingdoms and fairy tale settings. Méliès the Magician stopped making films in 1913, and died in poverty, but his work still entertains and enthralls." - The Movie Book, 1999
"The cinema's first conscious artist and the 'créateur du spectacle cinématographique', i.e. the first to recognize that films were not simply a means of recording what was there, but could be artificially staged and controlled, like the theatre. Ultimately, Méliès' cinema was too closely linked to the theatre, and by the time of the First World War was already archaic; but his contribution in developing the fiction film, in exploring the entire range of cinematic trick work, and above all in leaving behind him a body of films of unique and unparalleled imagination, can never be over-estimated." - David Robinson (The International Encyclopedia of Film, 1972)
"His films - he made hundreds - are charming, funny, and highly ingenious, but Méliès, in almost twenty years of filmmaking, did not develop his methods far beyond the mechanical reproduction of theatrical illusion… In the Thirties his films were rediscovered and he received the Legion of Honour." - The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema, 1983
"His demonstrations that film could be used for entertainment and not simply as a recording device established Méliès as the father of the cinema. He was a magician who first used motion pictures as a means of recording his stage act but soon began experimenting. In 1897 he built the world's first motion-picture studio in France and during the next 16 years made hundreds of films, ranging from Jules Verne science-fiction fantasies to recreations of dramatic moments in history." - The Movie Makers, 1974
"Conjuror, cartoonist, inventor and mechanic… A Trip to the Moon (1902), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907) and New York to Paris by Car (1908) are among the hundred or so films extant that still astonish and amuse." - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
"In Méliès' films, the powers of imagination and humour were given full scope. As Claude Beylie put it, 'With Lumière, trains entered stations, with Méliès they got off the rails and flew into the clouds.' Theatrically inspired as they were, his films formed the basis of what early film historians call the 'cinema of attractions', a cinema of spectacle in which the spectator marvels at the possibilities of the medium itself." - Ginette Vincendeau (Encyclopedia of European Cinema, 1995)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Le Voyage dans la lune (1902) , Le Voyage a travers l'impossible (1904)
Worth a Look
Le Manoir du diable (1896), The One-Man Band (1900), The India Rubber Head (1901), Le Royaume des fées (1903), The Infernal Boiling Pot (1903), Le Melomane (1903), Tunneling the Channel (1907)
Approach with Caution
The Brahmin and the Butterfly (1901), Éruption volcanique à la Martinique (1902), Le Cake-walk infernal (1903) , The Wonderful Living Fan (1904), Paris to Monte Carlo (1905)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films Jonathan Rosenbaum
Martin Scorsese
    Le Voyage dans la lune
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