Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Melies Madness! - How He Missed His Train [Le réveil d'un monsieur pressé] (1900)

A variation on a familiar Méliès theme, but reversed. In How He Missed His Train (aka Le réveil d'un monsieur pressé), the character's difficulty lies not in preparing for bed, but rather in readying himself to exit his sleeping quarters.

March Melies Madness! - The Doctor and the Monkey [Le savant et le Chimpanze] (1900)

Méliès monkeys around in Le savant et le Chimpanze (aka The Doctor and the Monkey), an atypical film for Melies that includes an interesting split-level set which allows for viewing two floors at the same time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Eight Girls in a Barrel [Le tonneau des danaïdes] (1900)

In Eight Girls in a Barrel (aka Le tonneau des danaïdes, aka The Dainaid's Barrel) Georges Méliès has fun with 8 women. And a barrel. The original French title references a Greek myth where forty-nine of the fifty daughters of King Danaus (i.e. the Danaids) were sentenced to fill bottomless barrels with water for all eternity as a punishment.

March Melies Madness! - Going to Bed Under Difficulties [Le déshabillage impossible] (1900)

Familiar territory for Méliès, but executed to perfection. We again see our protagonist "Going to Bed Under Difficulties", as indicated by the title, though this film also introduces us to a new Méliès trick: The Infinite Clothing. In fact, the original French title, Le déshabillage impossible, literally translates to "Impossible Undressing".

Music performed by Billy Duncan for Change Before Going Productions.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March Melies Madness! - A Fantastical Meal [Le repas fantastique] (1900)

Méliès shows us that going to bed isn't the only mundane act for which he can conjure surprises and difficulties.

March Melies Madness! - The Fat and Lean Wrestling Match [Nouvelles luttes extravagantes] (1900)

In The Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (aka Nouvelles luttes extravagantes aka New and Extravagant Bouts), Méliès magically creates the most comically brutal wrestling match of all time.

March Melies Madness! - The Triple Conjurer and the Living Head [L'illusioniste double et la tête vivante] (1900)

Méliès splits into 2 versions of himself, after which point the doppelganger interacts with the original (or is it vice versa?). A living, bodiless-head is produced and then turned into a full-bodied woman. Finally, the devil appears and ultimately reveals himself to be a 3rd Melies!

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Wizard, the Prince and the Good Fairy [Le sorcier, le prince et le bon génie] (1900)

The Wizard, the Prince and the Good Fairy (aka Le sorcier, le prince et le bon génie) contains the standard bag of tricks, such as stop-cut replacement editing, utilized during the time period by Méliès. Unique in this film is the framing of the slightly angled shot for the set, which allows for a larger-than-normal area of action.

March Melies Madness! - The Rajah's Dream [Le rêve du radjah ou La forêt enchantée] (1900)

Georges Méliès presents The Rajah's Dream (aka Le rêve du radjah ou La forêt enchantée aka Oh! What a Night; or, The Sultan's Dream) and expands upon his previous one-reelers such as A Nightmare and A Terrible Night. One nice advancement of note is the use of stop-cut editing to replace the entire setting and not just a small number of items.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Addition and Subtraction [Tom Whisky ou L'illusioniste toqué] (1900)

In this film, Tom Whisky (Méliès) plays with multiple beautiful women.

March Melies Madness! - The Mysterious Knight [Le chevalier mystère] (1899)

The conjurer (Méliès) appears at a blackboard and shows the head of a knight on it. He seizes the picture of the head, removes it from the blackboard, and it turns alive, bowing and smiling apparently without a body attached. The conjurer then seizes a sword and runs it completely through the head, entering at the neck and going right through the top of the skull. He then takes the head and places it upon a camera, which is mounted upon a tripod; then throwing a cloak around the legs of the tripod, the young lady to whom the head belongs appears instantly the cloak is removed, with head properly attached to her body. The conjurer then runs toward a door which stands in the middle of the wall, and making a jump in the air, vanishes into space.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Cinderella [Cendrillon] (1899)

This oldest known film adaptation of Charles Perrault's 1697 fairy tale, Cendrillon, is also the first movie to utilize a dissolve transition between scenes. Méliès accomplished this by closing the lens aperture, rewinding the film, and then re-opening the aperture.

Music performed by Billy Duncan for Change Before Going Productions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Dreyfus Affair [L'Affaire Dreyfus] (1899)

The Dreyfus Affair (aka L'Affaire Dreyfus) is a multi-film narrative by Georges Méliès regarding the controversial political scandal surrounding Captain Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of Treason in 1894 France. After Emile Zola published his infamous letter, J'Accuse, which accused the government of anti-Semitism and unlawful jailing, Dreyfus was eventually re-tried. In 1906, he was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. This film, produced in the midst of the scandal, would become the 1st censored movie as it was banned in France.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Pillar of Fire [La colonne de feu] (1899)

The Pillar of Fire (aka La colonne de feu) is loosely based upon H. Rider Haggard's 1887 novel, She. In beautiful, hand-colored tint, the devil (Georges Méliès) appears and summons a dancing lady.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Devil in a Convent [Le diable au convent] (1899)

In The Devil in a Convent (aka Le diable au convent), the devil (Georges Méliès) takes advantage of some nuns while in the guise of a priest before finally being defeated.

Music performed by Billy Duncan for Change Before Going Productions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Four Troublesome Heads [Un homme de tête] (1898)

Georges Méliès takes off his head, places it onto a table, and then re-grows a new head. This is repeated 2 more times with the still-animated heads interacting with each other.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Astronomer's Dream [La lune à un mètre] (1898)

In The Astronomer's Dream (aka La lune à un mètre aka The Moon at One Meter), Georges Méliès explores the imagination and fantasies of a scientist viewing the moon. This is a pre-cursor to the more accomplished A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune).

March Melies Madness! - Adventures of William Tell [Guillaume Tell et le clown] (1898)

A humorous re-telling of the William Tell legend, in which a dummy is built for the purpose of enacting the William Tell arrow shot, but the dummy comes to life via the use of a stop-cut replacement trick often used by Méliès.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Magician [Le Magicien] (1898)

A wizard (Georges Méliès) conjures a table and box out of thin air, then vanishes as he jumps toward the box. Pierrot emerges from the box, takes a seat, and suddenly a banquet appears on the table, but it vanishes along with the table and chair before he can eat. A man in an Elizabethan doublet taps him on the shoulder and he is transformed into a Renaissance sculptor. Lifting a half-finished bust onto a pedestal, he prepares to set to work on it with a hammer and chisel only for it to come to life and snatch his tools from him. He attempts to embrace the sculpture, but it disappears and reappears in a variety of poses. Finally, the Elizabethan man reappears to kick him in the rump.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Panorama From Top of a Moving Train [ Panorama pris d'un train en marche] (1898)

From the top of a moving train carriage, looking straight ahead over the roofs of the other carriages and over the steam engine pulling them, Méliès takes the viewer along a suburban Paris line, under bridges, past assorted buildings, and through a station. This is an example of a phantom ride, one of the earliest genres in film and popular at the end of the 19th century.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Divers at Work on the Wreck of the Maine [Visite sous-marine du Maine] (1898)

Méliès filmed Divers at Work on the Wreck of the Maine (aka Visite sous-marine du Maine) thru a fish tank containing live fish to create an effect of the action taking place underwater.

Early in 1898, an explosion sunk the American battleship "The Maine", which was anchored in Havana harbor, killing 252 sailors. This ultimately led to the brief Spanish-American war. In the film, divers examine the wreck and find the body of a drowned sailor. They haul the corpse up via a rope.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Melies Madness! - After the Ball [Après le bal] (1897)

Considered the 1st "Adult" movie due to containing semi-nudity, After the Ball (aka Après le bal) features a maid assisting a woman (Jeanne d'Alcy, who would later become the wife of Georges Méliès).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Bewitched Inn [L'auberge ensorcelée] (1897)

An inn's patron (Georges Méliès) readies himself to rest in his room, only to be foiled by various haunted tricks. The Bewitched Inn (aka L'auberge ensorcelée) can be considered a culmination of three previous surviving films by Melies: A Terrible Night, A Nightmare, and The Haunted Castle.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Between Calais and Dover (1897)

Between Calais and Dover (aka Entre Calais et Douvres) contains one of the 1st uses of a trademark on-screen in the form of Melies' Star Film company logo, for the purposes of claiming ownership of the work in pre-Copyright days. Also referenced is The Robert-Houdin Theatre, which was owned by Méliès.

In the film, a ship rocks back and forth on turbulent waves, sending its passengers sprawling.

March Melies Madness! - The Surrender of Tournavos [La prise de Tournavos] (1897)

A unique Méliès due to being a war scene re-enactment and containing no elements of fantasy or camera tricks. The Surrender of Tournavos (aka La prise de Tournavos).

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Haunted Castle [Le château hanté] (1897)

Via the use of stop-cut replacement trick photography, a king experiences the many haunts of his castle, culminating with an appearance by the Devil. The Haunted Castle (aka Le château hanté), by Georges Méliès, features wonderful hand-painting of individual frames, the result adding to the supernatural air of the film. Also of note: The logo of Melies' Star Film production company is visible at the bottom of the right column in the background archway. Including a logo within the film was an early technique for claiming ownership, similar to a photographer's watermark.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Melies Madness! - A Nightmare [Le Cauchemar] (1896)

A man's nightmares are presented via the use of stop-cut substitution effects. A Nightmare (aka Le cauchemar), by Georges Méliès.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Devil's Castle [Le manoir du diable] (1896)

Considered the first horror movie, and arguably the first vampire movieThe Devil's Castle (aka Le manoir du diable) runs over 3 minutes, an astonishing length for the time. The movie has been known by a variety of alternate names including The Devil's Manor, The Manor of the Devil, The House of the Devil, and The Haunted Castle. The latter is often incorrectly attributed to this film, but "The Haunted Castle" is actually the name of a different movie by Méliès, filmed 1 year later.

Music performed by Billy Duncan for Change Before Going Productions.

Friday, March 2, 2012

March Melies Madness! - The Vanishing Lady [Escamotage d'une Dame au Théâtre Robert Houdin] (1896)

Georges Méliès stops the camera to create The Vanishing Lady (aka Escamotage d'une Dame au Théâtre Robert Houdin, literally The Conjuring of a Woman at the House of Robert Houdin). This was the 70th film by Georges Melies.

March Melies Madness! - A Terrible Night [Une Nuit Terrible] (1896)

In A Terrible Night (aka Une nuit terrible), a man tries to get a peaceful night's sleep but is disturbed by a giant spider that leaps onto his bed. A battle then ensues in hilarious comic fashion. This is the 26th film by Georges Méliès.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Melies Madness! - Post No Bills [Defense d'afficher] (1896)

Long thought to be a lost film, Post No Bills (aka Défense d'afficher) was recovered in 2004 and features two bill posters fighting over a poorly-guarded off-limit wall. It is the 15th movie by Georges Méliès.

March Melies Madness! - Card Party [Une partie de cartes] (1896)

The 1st of 555 known films by Georges Méliès, Card Party (aka Une partie de cartes aka Party of Cards) is a remake (the world's 1st known movie remake) of Louis Lumiere's Card Game. The Lumière original can be found here: