Toth Database - Cinema 

Marie-Georges-Jean Mèlies

Paris 8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938



His family had a small shoe manufacturing company.

As a magician and illusionist, he directed the Robert Houdin Theatre in Paris, where magic shows were staged, sometimes interspersed with projections of magic lantern and even Thomas Edison's kinetoscope. Present at the first film performance on December 28, 1895, he was impressed by the invention of the Lumière Brothers. Sensing the potential of the new medium in entertainment and the realization of prestigious games, he tried to get himself to sell a device, but to the refusal of the inventors he had a copy built by his engineer. His first films imitated those of the Lumière, but soon found his own style, transferring in the cinema the tricks of his trade, filming performances of entertainment. In the film escamotage d'une Dame chez Robert – Houdini, we see for the first time a trick possible only with the camera, that is, a woman who hides under a cloth is made disappear interrupting the shooting, making it go and resume to Filming as if there had been no interval: This is the oldest example of montage in cinema. In 1897 he equipped a studio in Montreuil, one of the first film theaters

(The Movie Star). It was a huge surface (17 meters x 66) that joined the merits of a photographic studio (lighting of natural light thanks to the greenhouse roof) to those as large as a theatrical stage. The actors (often the same Mèlies played in front of specially painted scenographies, according to the tradition of the performances of Magic and the musical theatre. He Directed more than 500 films between 1896 and 1914, of varying duration between one and forty minutes, and of which there were just over two hundred, some fragmentary. As For the subject, his films were often similar to the magic shows that Mèliès uses to keep, with impossible tricks and events, like objects that disappear or change dimension. His best-known film is voyage to The MoonLe Voyage dans La Lune ), 1902.This and other sounds film directly or indirectly recall the work of Jules Verne and are considered the first sci-fi films. 

The film was the first World film success and also one of the first cases of piracy: agents of Thomas Edison corrupted the owner of a theatre in London to obtain a copy of Travel in the Moon, from which Edison printed hundreds of copies for projecting them in New York City, without paying anything to Mèlies. In his film Le manoir du diable you can trace the origins of horror movies. Between 1900 and 1912 Méliès's success was overwhelming, profoundly influencing the operators already active (Thomas Edison and Lumière) and giving a fundamental contribution to the genesis of cinematographic language essential to the genesis of language future film for authors. Already after the 1909 production underwent a decline, because the public has become more demanding in terms of narrative and coherence. In 1913 the company cinematography Movies by Méliès, went bankrupt because of trade policies: Méliès was selling copies of his film, but he felt no copyright for individual projections; so, paradoxically, while his film spopolavano in Europe and America, was forced to commit itself financially to continuously create new films, but began to be repetitive, staid, ridiculous, losing the interest of the market. He made several films for the Pathé, but with the coming of the great war, was finally ousted from filmmaking. Méliès later tornp to devote himself only to magic shows with reruns of his films at the Robert-Houdin, until the theatre was demolished to open the Boulervard Haussmann. In 1925 was one of the main actresses, Jeanne d'alcy, who had a kiosk of sweets and toys at the station in Paris – Montparnasse. The two married and were together of the kiosk. It was here that the journalist Lèon Druhot, Director of Cinè – Journal, met him, releasing it to oblivion. His work was rediscovered by the surrealists who organized a retrospective, the first film retrospective of history. In 1931 he received the Légion d'honneur from the hands of Louis Lumière. In 1932, through the good offices of a Union film, received a pension and retired to a case of rest for artists in the Castle Park of Orly. It is said that he discovered accidentally, Méliès, mounting while filming outdoors, at Place de l' Opéra in Paris: at one point the camera would accidentally jammed and shortly thereafter divided: in the development stage then Méliès you noticed with astonishment that, got to the point where was filming a carriage, this suddenly disappeared to make way for a hearse. As far as true or false, the anecdote sums up well what would have been there by little sense of editing. In those years, numerous other film tricks were typically tested, who went to support the theatrical tricks. The whole thing was mixed with numbers of varieties, jokes and theatrical attractions (sliding stage machinery, models, pyrotechnics, etc.). Méliès made extensive use of these techniques to create what he called "fantasmagorie". For him the montage was synonymous with metamorphosis, an apotheosis of art of wonder. The realism of photography in motion gave great credibility to tricks shown, so the success was immediate and enormous. In the films of Méliès laws of nature seem to cancel each other out, into a fantasy world unreal, where freedom was total and endless possibilities. You can tell it was born one of those "virtual worlds" where it was possible, the first from those now common today. Méliès films not recounted stories in the sense in which are designed in modern cinema: sure there was almost always a plot, but the main purpose in these films was to attract attention by showing magic tricks perhaps assembling more episodes. When Méliès had acquired full expressive capacity in the use of special effects in numerous short films, began planning stories composed of multiple shots. They were still fixed and included an inside episode, detached and independently from the others. This way of telling a story has been told in narrative paintings or stations. The shots are called autarkic, because you run out of itself and each painting animated, was strung together to the next, each new shot gave then a different episode, with thunderstorms possible disconnect between the one and the other. There was still a fitting as we know it today, but the viewer's point of view was always the same, as in theater and out points was only used to create special effects. Studies of Montreuil were equipped to provide hand-colored films.It was a difficult and painstaking process, often created by women, with a large magnifying glass, coloured frames one by one with some colors that maintain the effect of transparency. Inevitable are some burrs and approximation a bit forced chosen colors which created the effect of stain color, rather than d colourful images. 

A fantastic cinema Méliès is linked, so that realistic but the two Lumière features are not so clear-cut. Méliès was the first to show with the images the fantastic worlds already told in literature, leveraging the credibility of photography in motion to give credibility to the representation.




Partie de cartes Star film, 1896, remake of the card game, of the Lumière, is a realistic revival, without tricks.

nuit terrible (Star film 26.1896) Meliès plays a character in a bedroom that can not sleep because it hauntes by a giant spider; The film features theatrical tricks, not yet cinematic.

Escamotage d'une Dame chez Robert – houdin 

The Cauchemar 

Le manoir du diable 

Le Chàteau hantè 

The Prise de Torunavos

Entre Calais et Douvres

The Auberge Ensorcelèe

Apres Le Bal

Sous visits-Marine du Maine 

Panorama pris d'un train en marche

Le Magicien 

Illusions Phantasmagoriques 

Guillame Tell et le clown

La Lune a Dollar

Un homme de tètes

The Tentation de Saint Antoine

The fin-de-siècle illusionnist

The Diabel au convent

The danse du feu

The Mysterieux Portrait

The Dreyfus Affaire

The dictee du Bordereau

The lle du diable

Mise au fers de Dreyfus

Suicide du Colonel Henry

Debarquement to Quiberon

Entretien de Dreyfus et de sa femme à Rennes

Bagarre entre journalistes

The Conseil de Guerre en séance à Rennes 1899

Clèopàtre (1899)

Homme Protèe

Tom Wisky on the illusionist toque 

The Begeance du gate – sauce

Casues d'un explorateur 

L'homme Orchestras

Jeanne d'arc 

The reve Du radjah Ou La forey enchatèe 

Le crocier, le prince et le bon Genie 

Le livre magique 

Spiritism abracadabrant

The llusionniste double et la tete vivante 

Reve de Noel 

The New Orleans

Le Repas fantastique

Deshanbillage Impossible

The Tonneau De Danaides 

The savant et le chimpazè 

Le reveil d'un Monsieur Press 

The quiet Maison 

Dislocation mysterieuse 

The antre de espirits 

Chez la sorciere 


Barbe – Blue 

La chapeau à surprise 

L'homme à la tete en caoutchouc 

The diable geant Ou le Miracle De La madone 

Nain et geant 

Trip To the moon

Le Mèlomane 

The Chaudron Infernal 

The Cake-walk 

The Flamme Merveilleuse 

Le Rayaume des fèes

Le monstre 

The Auberge du bon repos 

The Magique lanterns 

The Rève du maitre de ballet 

La dannation de Faust 

The Thaumaturge chinois 

Le Borreau turc 

Le Roi Du Maquillage 

Journey through the Impossible (Voyage à travers the Impossible) 

The Cascade de Feu 

Les cartes vivantes

The diable noir 

Le phenix ou le coffret de cristal 

The Menuet lilliputien 

The Palais des Mille et une nutis

The Toque Compoisteur 

The the Chaise 

Le Raid Paris – Montecarlo En 2 heures 

An improvise fe d'artifice )

La Legende de Rip Van Winckle 

Les affiches en goguette

Le Tripot Clandestin 

Une chute du 5eme ètage

The anarchie – Chez Guignol 

The Hotel des voyageurs de commerce 

The bulles de savon vivantes 

Les 400 fareces du diable


The douche d'eau bouillante 

Les Fromages Automobiles

The Tunnel Sous la Manche ou Le cahuchemar franco-anglais 

Eclipse de soleil en pleine lune

Pauvre John ou les aventures d'un beveur de whisky 

The Universelle Hill 

Ali Barbouyou Et Ali bouf à l'huile 

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the seas

Le Tambourin fantastique

The Cuisine of the ogre 

the Torches humanines

the Genie du Feu 

Why that actor was late

Le rève d'un femeur d'opium

Salon de coiffure

Le Nouveau signerur du village

The avare

The Conseil Du pipelet ou a tour à la foir 

The Blue 

Les Patineurs (1908)

Amour et molasses

Les Mesaventures of a photographer 

Le fakir De Singapour

A Tricky Painter's Fairies 

French interpreter policeman 

Anaic on le balafre 

Pour l'etoile 

Count de la Grand – mere et reve de l'enfant 

la Bonne bergere et la mauvais princesse 

The Diabolique Locataire 

Le Secret du mèdècin