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Melies the Magician (1896-1912)

Cast: Georges Méliès
Director: Georges Méliès
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Studio: Facets
Genre: Classic Sci-Fi, Short Films, Silent, Silent Comedies, Silent Action, Classic Sci Fi/Fantasy, Classic Fantasy
Running Time: 185 min.
Languages: English, French, German
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A Trip to the Moon is the most famous of the over 500 short films produced by cinema pioneer Georges Méliès betwen 1896 and 1912, and its signature image of a bullet-shaped rocket lodging itself in the eye of a smirking moon is one of the most recognizable images in cinema history. An accomplished magician, Méliès moved from simple recordings of his stage shows to dazzling fantasy epics which were among the first narrative films ever made. These "trick films" combined fantastic yarns, intricate painted sets, and elaborate costumes with such simple but effective special effects as slow motion, dissolves, and superimpositions. Like Méliès's other long films of the period, Trip to the Moon is composed of a series of tableaux, each featuring chaotic action and multiple camera tricks photographed with a stubbornly static camera, which work together to tell a simple story. It proved sensationally popular with audiences, though Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery rode a slightly more sophisticated narrative to greater success the following year. As one of the earliest examples of cinematic fantasy, A Trip to the Moon paved the way for such filmic flights of fancy as The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, as it proved that the seduction of the audience through special effects has roots deeper than the blockbusters of the Seventies. ~ Mark Pittillo, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

still charming 100 years later by EphemeralToast December 30, 2006 - 8:32 PM PST
This disc contains a 2-hour documentary about the life and films of Georges Méliès and a shorter piece which contains 15 uncut short films and is hosted by Méliès's granddaughter. The documentary is a bit slow and sedate, going into great, sometimes tedious detail about how Méliès constructed his special effects on film, but contains lots of interesting information about the studio workshop he built and how he made the transition from magician to filmmaker. Méliès seems to have been a real jack of all trades. He wrote his own scripts, designed and built his own sets, and directed and starred in all his own short films. Fifteen of these films are presented in their entirety in the second part of the disc, with music and some commentary from his granddaughter. It is not possible to turn this commentary off, which would be a useful feature. But the films themselves are delightful and still remarkable for their entertainment value over 100 years later. Méliès himself has a charming, kinetic presence and was obviously a born performer. He frequently reuses the same comedic tropes like detatchable heads and dancing devils, but manages to bring freshness to them each time. I found the disc worthwhile despite the fact that the documentary moved a bit slowly.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.58)
31 Votes
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Vitallia's Rental Favs
Some of these films are not as fresh in my mind as when I first viewed them. This is my first list and these are some of the highlights.
addicted to film

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