|Georges Méliès (Dec. 8, 1861-Jan. 21, 1938)|
His first films, like the Lumières, were actuality films (called actualités) which he added to the program at his theatre. Years later these films would became known as documentaries. He later filmed scenes of himself doing magic tricks. Then one day he accidentally discovered that he could use stop-motion photography to render trick visual effects, such as making objects disappear or change in size with a puff of smoke. Méliès was also the first to use techniques such as fade-ins, fade-outs, and dissolves to create some of the first real narrative films. He was also the first to use split screen and double exposure in his films as well. Also by accident, Méliès also created the world's first 3D camera While trying to figure out how to make sure that his US films weren't stolen before the release of his European copy, he devised a camera that would hold two reels of film that would shoot the image simultaneously; one reel is the "right eye" and the other the "left eye." When these images overlaped on another, they would become what we call a 3D image. If you don't believe me, read my review of the Méliès program I attended at the Motion Picture Academy back in September. The link in near the bottom.
|Still from A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902)|
After being driven out of business, Méliès became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse Station in Paris and was completely forgotten. Fortunately, the French surrealist movement in the 1920s brought about a rediscovery of his surviving films, and the acknowledgment of his contributions to the art and the industry of motion pictures. Eventually, this led to his being awarded the Legion of Honor in 1931. He was also given a rent free apartment where he spent the remaining years of his life. Georges Méliès passed away on January 21, 1938, and was buried in the Pere Lachaise Cementary.
|The Georges Méliès 5-Disc DVD Boxset (2008)|
In 2010, a rare, hand colored print of A TRIP TO THE MOON was discovered in a film vault in Barcelona, Spain. French film historian and archivist Serge Bromberg acquired the film but the print was in very poor condition. As a result, Bromberg's company Lobster Films, along with Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage, plus with the aid of Tom Burton at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles, California, launched the most complex and ambitious restoration project in the history of cinema. In the course of one year, they were able to restore Méliès' film in time for its premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a recorded soundtrack done by the French band Air. During my vacation in Los Angeles back in September, I attended the special program entitled "A TRIP TO THE MOON AND OTHER TRAVELS THROUGH TIME, COLOR, AND SPACE" at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Science, where they had a special screening of the film, along with other important silent films (including the previously mentioned Méliès 3D films). For those of you who didn't get a chance to read my review of this special occasion the first time around, please click here to read about it.
Georges Méliès is more than just a filmmaker, he is an icon. A hero to some, others see him as a pioneer. But what is not disputed is this: now and forever more, Georges Méliès will simply be remembered as the first wizard of cinema!
The Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) 5-Disc DVD Boxset and the Georges Méliès Encore: New Discoveries (1896-1911) single disc are currently available on the Flicker Alley website. To purchase copies, visit their website at www.flickeralley.com
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!