If you’ve been a regular visitor to Spectacular Attractions (don’t worry – I’m not checking), chances are you’ve heard me mention Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Over the past few months the title has contracted, so that it is now going under the title of simply Hugo. It’s due for release in the USA on 23rd November, just a couple of weeks shy of the 150th anniversary of the birth of French film pioneer Georges Méliès, who plays an integral, but mysterious role in the story. At the centre of the tale is Hugo himself, an orphaned boy hiding out in a Paris train station and trying to discover the secrets of a humanoid automaton left to him by his father. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Georges Melies
The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
While you’re waiting impatiently for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret (due for release on 9th December 2011), you might like to note the progress of The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart: at least, that seems to be the current English-language title – the film is adapted from a novella by Mathias Malzieu, though it started out as La mécanique du cœur, a 2007 concept album by Malzieu’s band Dionysos. Malzieu will co-direct the animated film version with Stéphane Berla (who has directed several videos for the band), reuniting the voice-cast who appeared in various roles on the album; this will include Eric Cantona, Rossy de Palma, Alain Bashung and Jean Rochefort, who plays the French film pioneer and Spectacular Attractions stalwart, Georges Méliès. You can see one of Berla’s music videos for Dionysos’s song Le Homme sans Trucage, featuring Rochefort, at the bottom of this post, but the film’s animation is expected to be closer to a CG version of Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, one of the band’s most often cited inspirations for its spindly gothic aesthetic. Luc Besson is producing, and the film is set for a French release in October 2011. I’ll keep an eye on this one (I’m beginning preliminary search for an essay on filmic representations of Melies), and let you know more as I find out: will it feature all of Dinysos’s songs, for instance? Will it be family friendly, or will it keep all of the books (obvious) phallic symbolism and the tune ‘Cunnilingus mon Amour’?
A Trip to the First Men in the Moon
I like to keep track of references to Georges Melies’s A Trip to the Moon, which is already the most thoroughly referenced film here at Spectacular Attractions. The latest sighting comes in the BBC’s recent adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon, one of the acknowledged influences on Melies’s film. Gatiss’s version of the story incorporates a framing narrative where a young boy at a fairground wanders into a tent where an old man sits guarding his cinematographe films on the day of the Apollo Moon landings. Persuaded to tell his tale, the old man spins a yarn, accompanied by a film show, of how he and his friend Professor Cavor (Mark Gatiss) became the first men to land on the Moon and to meet its inhabitants, the Selenites. Wells’s book ends inconclusively – we don’t find out what happens to Cavor when he is left behind on the Moon. Gatiss gives a solution to the mystery that explains why Neil Armstrong wasn’t met by spindly, air-breathing aliens when he made his giant leap. It’s all rather fun, but the highpoint, at least for my all-consuming self-interests, came during a hallucinatory sequence where Bedford (Rory Kinnear) imagines returning to the Moon to rescue Cavor, all told in the style of a Melies movie. Bedford has been forced to flee the Moon, leaving Cavor stranded amongst the Selenites, and suffers from feverish visions as the spacecraft tumbles back to Earth.
In H.G. Wells’s book, Bedford imagines himself separated from his body, looking back with disdain upon “Bedford”, who he came to believe was “just a peephole through which I looked at life”:
I can’t profess to explain the things that happened in my mind. No doubt they could all be traced directly or indirectly to the curious physical conditions under which I was living. I set them down here just for what they are worth, and without any comment. The most prominent quality of it was a pervading doubt of my own identity. I became, if I may so express it, dissociate from Bedford; I looked down on Bedford as a trivial,incidental thing with which I chanced to be connected. I saw Bedford in many relations–as an ass or as a poor beast, where I had hitherto been inclined to regard him with a quiet pride as a very spirited or rather forcible person. […]
For a time I struggled against this really very grotesque delusion. I tried to summon the memory of vivid moments, of tender or intense emotions to my assistance; I felt that if I could recall one genuine twinge of feeling the growing severance would be stopped. But I could not do it. I saw Bedford rushing down Chancery Lane, hat on the back of his head, coattails flying out, en route for his public examination. I saw him dodging and bumping against, and even saluting, other similar little creatures in that swarming gutter of people. […]
I still reasoned that all this was hallucination due to my solitude, and the fact that I had lost all weight and sense of resistance. I endeavoured to recover that sense by banging myself about the sphere, by pinching my hands and clasping them together. […]
Enough of this remarkable phase of my experiences! I tell it here simply to show how one’s isolation and departure from this planet touched not only the functions and feeling of every organ of the body, but indeed also the very fabric of the mind, with strange and unanticipated disturbances.All through the major portion of that vast space journey I hung thinking of such immaterial things as these, hung dissociated and apathetic, a cloudy megalomaniac, as it were, amidst the stars and planets in the void of space; and not only the world to which I was returning, but the blue-lit caverns of the Selenites, their helmet faces, their gigantic and wonderful machines, and the fate of Cavor, dragged helpless into that world, seemed infinitely minute and altogether trivial things to me.
In Gatiss’s version, Bedford still suffers from hallucinations, but he doesn’t forget about Cavor, but instead reimagines the perilous situation as a comic trick film. We know that the pair were filming their adventures, and that Bedford’s story would never be believed, so this filmic apparition seems consistent with themes of the film. It’s not a perfect simulation of Melies’s style – there are too many close-ups, not enough extreme long shots, and the sets are less elaborately detailed, but it’s an affectionate homage that tips a hat to the long history of Wells adaptations, and to Melies’s pivotal role in making them cinematic. (You might also notice the cunning casting of Gatiss’s colleagues from The League of Gentlemen, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, as the Moon and the Sun.)
Picture of the Week #58: Ben Kingsley as George Méliès in Hugo Cabret
Spectacular Attractions has been following the progress of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret since it was announced. It’s based on a beautiful book, has a top-notch cast, promises to re-imagine the possible uses of 3D, and best of all, it’s partly about one of my favourite film-makers, Georges Méliès. I’m hoping there’ll be some dazzling reconstructions of famous moments from his films. The casting for the role also looks to be an excellent choice, if these images of Ben Kingsley as both the young and the elderly Méliès are anything to go by.
A Trip to the Moon / Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)
[First Published 8 October 2008; Updated 12 February 2009; 10 June 2010; 24 February 2012; 27 March 2012]
[I’ve been adding to this post occasionally since I first published it on 8th October 2008. I tagged it as a work in progress, but now that I’ve commented a little on every shot, I thought I’d publish the updates (it has more than doubled in length since it first appeared) and declare it (almost) finished. I will continue to update it every once in a while, but I hope you find it interesting and informative in its present form. I still invite comments or further information from anyone who’d like to add to the essay, or who has links or bibliographic references to recommend.]
For the benefit of anyone who is studying this film or just fascinated by it, I’m going to attempt a shot-by-shot commentary on Georges Méliès‘ A Trip to the Moon, released in France on 1st September 1902. It might start out rudimentary and descriptive, but as I add to and re-edit it from time to time it will be embellished with notes garnered from further reading and visitors’ commentaries (feel free to add your observations at the bottom of this post), to see if we can gather together some useful critical annotations for each shot of the film. I’ve included lots of links, some of which expand upon a key point, while others offer a surprising but interesting digression, I hope.
Georges Méliès in Springfield
Last week’s episode of The Simpsons (462 – 2121 MABF13 “Moe Letter Blues“) featured a scene that gave Spectacular Attractions a bit of a thrill. The interlude for Itchy and Scratchy, psychotic cat-and-mouse masters of escalating violence, was titled La Mort d’un Chat sur la Lune (“The Death of a Cat on the Moon”), and delivered an affectionate pastiche of Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune, one of this blog’s favourite topics of conversation (see here for my ever-expanding, shot-by-shot analysis of the film). Adding to a long list of tributes to the film, Itchy and Scratchy begin their skit with Scratchy the cat acting as cameraman for Itchy’s film of a trip to the moon. The camera runs out of film, and the furious director slices open the cat’s belly and loads his intestines into the camera like a filmstrip…
Poor Scratchy then has to crank his guts through the camera, but when the prop moon falls down from its cables and smashes, Itchy again improvises a solution by decapitating his cameraman, inflating his head with bellows (perhaps another homage to Méliès’ L’homme à la tête de Caoutchouc, made the year before A Trip to the Moon in 1901) and hanging it up against the backdrop. The team of bearded mouse explorers light the fuse on their rocket…
…. launching it right into Scratchy’s eye. It’s a tribute to the enduring appeal and renown of Méliès’ film that it’s key image of the Man in the Moon with a rocket in his eye is still recognisable after more than a century. And look, they even got the tongue right:
- This is the second time A Trip to the Moon has been referenced in an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon – in Par for the Corpse, from the season 13 episode “Blame it on Lisa”, Itchy uses Scratchy’s head as a golf ball and drives it into the moon. Anyone have pictures of this?
Casting Confirmed for The Invention of Hugo Cabret
[See also The Hugo Trailer.]
The development of Scorsese’s adaptation of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret continues apace, with the announcement of some pretty solid casting decisions. Spectacular Attractions is unnaturally interested in this film, partly because it comes from a beautiful book, but mainly because it combines two of my favourite things, Georges Melies and automata.
The cast list now includes Hit Girl herself, Chloe Moretz as Isabelle:
Asa Butterfield from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas as Hugo Cabret:
And (Sir!) Ben Kingsley as Georges Melies, a fine selection, and one that hadn’t occurred to me:
Sacha Baron Cohen (just watched his nauseating turn as an Israeli tour guide on The Simpsons – a really misjudged and lazy episode) will most likely be involved as the station inspector. So far so good. But always skeptical…
Scorsese to Direct The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Another “watch this space” announcement for you today. Spectacular Attractions is still committed to keeping an eye on developments on the two Moby Dicks currently in production, and will update you as soon as there’s something to update (my suspicion is that Timur Bekmambetov’s version will get postponed indefinitely, especially if the forthcoming TV version is a popular success), but maybe it’s time to start getting a little bit excited about the upcoming adaptation of Brian Selznick’s graphic children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Especially now that director Chris Wedge has been replaced by Martin Scorsese, a genuine cinephilic historian who might be able to do something interesting with the Georges Méliès angle. A vision in graphite, Selznick’s book is the tale of a young boy’s meeting with Melies and the automaton that may contain a message from his father. It’s all beautifully drawn, but most enticingly offers a rare opportunity for a blockbuster to tip its hat to Melies’ foundational achievements in film. I blogged about the book a while ago, alongside my own interest in automata and stuff like that.
Now, Variety reports that Martin Scorsese, who has owned the rights to the book since 2007, is signed on to make this his next film, with a script by The Aviator‘s John Logan. This will delay the rest of the stuff on Scorsese’s to-do list, including the Sinatra biopic, the Teddy Roosevelt biopic and the adaptation Shusaku Endo’s Silence, which was sounding pretty interesting with Benicio del Toro in the lead. I’ll be intrigued to find out how they’ll preserve the book’s distinctive aesthetic (without making it look like the Take on Me video), and look forward to the casting sessions for Georges Melies. There can’t be a better choice than Jean Rochefort, surely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they go with Jean Reno, or maybe Christopher Plummer. And let’s not rule out the possibility that Tom Waits can do a French accent….
Travel and Transport in Early Cinema
[This is a guest post by one of my undergraduate students, Katie Newstead. The assignment was to produce a set of notes for an imaginary programme of short films, connecting them by theme, artist or aesthetic. See more student work here.]
This selection of films from the period 1895 to 1906 shares the common theme of travel. During this time, few people travelled for leisure and tourism; those that did, usually did so on the basis of military service or for business purposes. The invention of the steamboat in the late 1700s, and the passenger train in 1821 coincided with the development of pre-cinema; with devices such as Shaw’s Stereotrope (1861) presenting a number of still images in quick succession to create the illusion of one moving image. Thus, a connection can be drawn between society’s desire to travel, and cinema’s attempts to represent movement.
These devices could generally only be viewed by one individual at a time. It was not until 1895, when the Lumière brothers invented the Cinématographe, which captured, processed and projected images on screen, that films could be shown to multiple audiences. One of the most famous Lumière films is L’arrivée d’un train à la Ciotat/Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, due to the myths surrounding its initial public reaction. Allegedly, a number of spectators were so frightened by the image of a train driving towards them, that they fled the screening. German writer Hellmuth Karasek described the film as having a ‘particularly lasting impact; yes, it caused fear, terror, even panic.’ (2004:89-119)
While the accuracy of these tales has been debated, it is easy to imagine how audiences must have responded. The oblique angle of the camera parallels that of the railway track, providing a sense of distance and perspective. The fact that the train directly approaches the audience actively engages them with the image; they witness its increase in size as it speeds towards them, which further enhances the scene’s verisimilitude. The camera takes a point of view stance, allowing for identification between the spectator and passenger; they both patiently wait on the platform, whilst watching the train’s arrival. It could be argued that this plays on the current ideological desires of travel; the audience can fantasise that they too will be boarding the train. If the camera had been placed on the opposite platform to the waiting passengers, for example, this would have meant that the audience would not have been able to see the train approaching, and its arrival would have obscured those boarding it. Therefore, the camera’s clever positioning enables it to record a large amount of action; the train’s arrival and the people waiting, which functions together to form a coherent narrative.
The first public screening by the Lumière brothers took place on 28 December, 1985 and, while it did not include the above film, one member of the audience was particularly significant. Georges Méliès, the son of a wealthy shoemaker, had long been interested in the creative arts; reportedly drawing caricatures of his teachers as a boy. At around 10, he was taken to see legendary French magician Robert-Houdin, who later tutored Méliès in the art of magic during his military service.
After his father’s retirement in 1888, Méliès sold his shares of the shoe factory to purchase the theatre in which he had been inspired; The Théâtre Robert-Houdin, and reopened it that year. After the Lumière’s debut screening, he approached them with the intention of buying a Cinématographe, which they refused to sell. Unperturbed, he bought a British invented camera, and began to make his own films from 1896. He made films across many genres, including: documentary, comedy, pornography, and what is considered to be the first science-fiction film: Le Voyage Dans La Lune/A Trip to the Moon (1902).
Le Voyage Dans La Lune was believed to have cost 10,000 francs, and consequently is also regarded as the first big-budget film. Influenced by Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and H. G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon (1901), Méliès’ film starred several acrobats looking to earn more money than they normally would on stage.
The excitement of travel is clearly evident; note the ceremonious nature of the rocket launch, complete with trumpeters, the flying of the tricolore, and the cheering crowds. The women who insert the shuttle into the rocket then turn to wave at the camera, allowing the audience to feel part of the action and the celebration. This sense of the active audience is similar to that of L’arrivée d’un train à la Ciotat, and serves to make the activity of viewing a film more engaging and appealing, and allows for greater empathy with the characters.
The shot of the moon increasing in size as the rocket speeds towards it mirrors the train’s approach of Ciotat Station. While the Lumière brothers used this technique to enhance reality, Méliès arguably uses it to create suspense and excitement; the viewer eagerly anticipates the moon-landing, and the imminent adventure.
The image that follows is the most iconic of the whole film and, indeed, of Méliès’ entire filmography; the rocket crashing into the anthropomorphic face of the moon. This has been reproduced many times: from the iron railings between 8th and 9th Avenue in New York, to the logo and statue of the Visual Effects Society’s yearly awards ceremony, therefore indicating the importance of this image among the public.
This image also appears in the third and final film of this selection: The ? Motorist or The Mad Motorist (1906), which was produced by keen motorist and engineer R. W. Paul. The film takes place between London’s Holborn and Muswell Hill, and the Orange Tree Pub, which the motorist drives up the face of, served as a production base for location shooting. The theme of the film must have been very close to the bone for Paul; who had previously been charged for speeding. The film does not seem to be condoning bad driving; on the contrary, the driver and his passenger appear to be enjoying the thrill of movement, and the feeling of freedom; which is illustrated by the car’s journey into space. During this fantastical voyage, the car drives around a moon that is similar to the one that features in Le Voyage Dans La Lune.
The ? Motorist could be cited as influencing such literary figures as Toad in The Wind in the Willows; both characters revel in the pleasure of speed. Furthermore, in a 1907 essay by Russian writer Andrei Bely, a character very similar to that of the mad motorist is described as: ‘Death in a top hat – […] baring his teeth and rushing towards us.’ (Bely, 1907; in Tsivian & Taylor, 2005:120) While this is not a particularly accurate physical description of the motorist, the fact that a Russian author should be writing about this film suggests evidence of a wide distribution, as well as an inspired and excited audience reaction.
As a whole, the three films that make up this selection demonstrate a desire to travel for pleasure, the need for individuals to broaden their horizons, and the positive anticipation of the future; a modern, industrialised world that is constantly striving towards speed and immediacy.
- Grahame, K. (2005), The Wind in the Willows, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.: New York.
- Gunning, T. (2005), ‘Lunar Illuminations: A Trip to the Moon, 1902’, in: Geiger, J. & Rutsky, R. (eds), Film Analysis, Norton & Company, Inc: New York & London, p.64-80.
- Herbert, S. (2000), ‘Introduction’ in: A History of Pre-Cinema, Routledge: London.
- Joyce, S. (2000), A Trip to the Moon: Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Other Influences, (Online Essay). Available from: http://silentsf.com/Project_Melies/Melies_HTML/Essay.html (Accessed 7 November, 2009)
- Karasek, H. (2004), The Moving Image: Volume 4, Number 1, p.89-118
- Taylor, R. & Tsivian, Y. (2005), ‘The Reception of the Moving Image’ in: Early Cinema in Russia and Its Cultural Reception, Routledge: London, p.108-129.
- Verne, J. (1865), From the Earth to the Moon, (Republished in 2005), Barnes & Noble Publishing: America.
- Wells, H. G. (1901), First Men in the Moon, (Republished in 2008), Arc Manor Publishers: Rockville, Maryland, USA.
- L’arrivée d’un train à la Ciotat/Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (Lumière, 1895)
- Le Voyage Dans La Lune/A Trip to the Moon (Méliès, 1902).
- The ? Motorist (Paul, 1906)
©Katie Newstead 2009
The Films of Georges Méliès
[This is a guest post by one of my undergraduate students, Joe Hickinbottom. The assignment was to produce a set of notes for an imaginary programme of short films, connecting them by theme, artist or aesthetic. To be provided as a handout which is to be read prior to the viewing of the selected films. See more student work here.]
- Une Partie de Cartes / Playing Cards (1896)
- L’Auberge Ensorcelée / The Bewitched Inn (1897)
- La Lune à un Mètre / The Astronomer’s Dream (1898)
- L’Affaire Dreyfus / The Dreyfus Affair (1899) – selected sequences
- Le Voyage dans la Lune / A Trip to the Moon (1902)
Born in 1861, French film-maker Georges Méliès displayed an active curiosity in the arts from an early age, so much so that his particular interest in puppetry and stage design gained him a place at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His parents’ desire for him to learn English led him to London where, after attending the shows of John Nevil Maskelyne and George Alfred Cooke in the famous Egyptian Hall (Figure 1), he became fascinated by stage conjury. Returning to Paris, Méliès purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin. Here, he worked as a theatrical entertainer, integrating the magic and illusionist skills he studied in England into his performances, alongside the development of his own tricks. When Méliès witnessed the first demonstration of the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe – a camera, printer and projector in one – he immediately proposed that he buy the machine, but the brothers refused. Nevertheless, his drive to explore moving pictures guided him towards electrical engineer Robert W. Paul who sold Méliès one of his projectors. Méliès subsequently started to construct his own camera and, on completion, he held his first film screening in April 1896.
Initially Méliès exhibited the films of other artists, most of which were produced for the Kinetoscope, patented by American inventor Thomas Edison. Yet, months later, Méliès shot his first ever movie, Une partie de cartes / Playing Cards (1896), using a single reel of film lasting approximately 1 minute. In the film we see a group of men, outside, casually playing cards and enjoying each other’s amusing company whilst drinks are brought to them by a waitress (Figure 2). A direct duplication of the 1895 Lumière film of the same name, Une partie de cartes is somewhat different to much of Méliès’ ensuing work in that it is an actualité (or ‘actuality’) piece, apparently recording factual everyday events as they occur. Méliès’ competent sense for camera positioning and shot composition, however, are clearly evident here, making full use of the frame in the array of actions carried out within it. His central role as an actor would be the first of many dramatic performances in his own films, maintaining the status as a showman which he very much enjoyed in the theatre.
During the shooting of another actuality in 1896, Méliès made a discovery that would strongly inform his films from thereon. When his camera momentarily jammed, the processed film showed the effect of objects suddenly appearing, disappearing and transforming. Realising that the camera possessed this ability to manipulate time and space, Méliès proceeded to build his own studio where he could create his ambitiously spectacular and magical moving images. In 1897’s L’auberge ensorcelée / The Bewitched Inn, we can observe Méliès’ complexly arranged combination of camera trickery, pre-prepared props and staged illusions. He brings to life the inn guest’s hat and clothes through the use of wires; makes various items of furniture vanish and materialise elsewhere by means of jump-cuts; and causes a candle to sporadically explode when the wick is lit by the guest, again played by Méliès (Figure 3). L’Auberge ensorcelée illustrates a distinct progression in Méliès’ work towards a more intricate and multifaceted approach to film-making, incorporating conjury and camera effects in a manner that transcended the marvels available to see on the stage.
As technical and mechanical advances were being made Méliès took advantage of the opportunities offered by the new equipment, introducing more sophisticated visual and narrative elements into his films. Longer reels allowed the assembling of a number of shots, or ‘scenes’, to construct a continuous story to act as a vehicle for his spectacles. Predating Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 movie The Great Train Robbery (often hailed as the first complete film narrative) by some years, La lune à un mètre / The Astronomer’s Dream (1898) saw Méliès produce a film three times longer than most of his earlier shorts. Here, Méliès’ recurring theme of dreams proves fertile ground for his deep-seated interest in the phantasmagorical, playing host to a devil, a celestial fairy and a gorging moon, amongst others (Figure 4). The hand-painted backdrops and décors provide distorted perspectives and depth-of-field, establishing an aesthetic of fantasy within which the astronomer’s ordeal unfolds. In this sense, and considering the advanced use of props, La lune à un mètre could be regarded as an elaboration on the earlier Le cauchemar / A Nightmare (1896), yet also as a precursor to the longer and more complicated tales Méliès would later deliver.
A common misconception is that Méliès dealt mostly with fantasies and fairytales. Throughout his career he made films of a diverse variety including topical satires, historical re-tellings, science fictions, literary adaptations and dramatised actualities. His 1899 mini-epic L’affaire Dreyfus / The Dreyfus Affair attempted to accurately re-enact (albeit dramatically), the political event of the seemingly false imprisonment of French Army captain Alfred Dreyfus. Running at 13 minutes, L’affaire Dreyfus tells its story across eleven individual films designed to be shown in sequence. Whilst we notice Méliès’ typical use of painted backdrops, the more realistic and faithfully representative perspectives offer here an authentic aesthetic (Figure 5). This, augmented by the more naturalistic performances of his actors, aided Méliès in conveying his own views, portraying the captain as a tragic character. The film caused so much controversy that it was banned by the French government and is thus acknowledged as one of the first instances of political censorship, debunking the notion that Méliès was simply a director of much-loved child-like fantasy films.
Notwithstanding this, Méliès is most remembered by audiences for his spectacular science fiction pieces. Le voyage dans la lune / A Trip to the Moon (1902), displays the culmination of years of developing magic tricks, set design, mechanical props, and stop-motion, multiple exposure and dissolve techniques. The fragmented yet generally coherent narrative is acted out on an immense scale; the fantastical voyage making full use of Méliès’ skills. We watch as a rocket is propelled into the moon’s eye, as strange monsters dance playfully, and as vast landscapes appear to engulf the travelers (Figure 6). Up until his retirement in 1913, Méliès continued to produce such fantasies in addition to various trick films, dramas and even a Western. Although many of Méliès’ 500 or so films have been lost, his innovations as a magician, photographer, performer and film-maker can still be deeply recognised in those that survive. Working during a time when the camera was thought of predominantly as a device for capturing real life and projecting it back to the audience, Georges Méliès pioneered an entirely new realm of cinema, exploring the hidden capacities of the camera and the opportunities of spectacle held therein.
© Joe Hickinbottom 2009
- Brooke, M., [n.d.], ‘George Méliès: An In-depth Look at the Cinema’s First Creative Genius’, FilmJournal.net [16 October 2009]
- Early Cinema, [n.d.], ‘Pioneers: Georges Méliès’ [16 October 2009]
- Ezra, E., 2000, Georges Méliès: The Birth of the Auteur, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 1-49
- Herbert, S. & McKernan, L. (eds.), Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey, London: British Film Institute Publishing
- Joyce, S., [n.d.], ‘A Trip to the Moon: Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Other Influences’ [18 November 2009]
- The Missing Link, [n.d.], ‘Méliès: Inspirations & Illusions’ [16 October 2009]
- Richard, S., 1991, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the Art of Georges Méliès’, in Usai, P. (ed.), Lo Schermo Incantato: Georges Méliès (1861-1938), Gemona: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto / International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House / Edizioni Biblioteca dell’Immagine, pp. 39-55
- Roland, C., 1991, ‘Georges Méliès as L’Inescamotable Escamoteur: A Study in Recognition’, in Usai, P. (ed.), Lo Schermo Incantato: Georges Méliès (1861-1938), Gemona: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto / International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House / Edizioni Biblioteca dell’Immagine, pp. 57-111