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Spotlight Sunday – Georges Méliès

The Two Gay Geeks were inspired to feature Georges Méliès when Google presented us with the first 360 Doodle celebrating the work of Méliès. As self proclaimed film buffs and wannabe photographers ourselves we are very fond and amazed at the work Méliès did in the first years of the 20th Century.

 

Georges Méliès


Celebrating the First Independent Filmmaker

 

Google Celebrates Georges Méliès with a special 360 Doodle:

Information on creating the first 360 Doodle:https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-georges-melies

 

Wikipedia introduction to Georges Méliès:

Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, known as Georges Méliès; 8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938), was a French illusionist and film director who led many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès was well-known for the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splices, multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted colour. He was also one of the first filmmakers to use storyboards. His films include A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904), both involving strange, surreal journeys somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy.

For the full wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Méliès

 

Our New-Found Appreciation:

While we have always been familiar with some of the works of Méliès (who isn’t, really), it wasn’t until we discovered the brilliant Martin Scorsese film, Hugo, where we discovered more about some of his history. Which, in turn, prompted a manic desire to discover all things Méliès. Google and Wikipedia are the friends of us with OCD when it comes to wanting to research something or someone.

Georges Méliès history is fascinating, having grown up in the shoe business and gravitated to the theater where he was an accomplished magician, costume maker, director, and theater owner. Until he was invited to a private exhibition by the brothers Lumière and their new cinematograph machines, he even offered them a fortune for one but they refused. He later acquired a different type of projector and even went on the create his own camera and film developing techniques to produce his own films. Between 1896 and 1913 Méliès produced over 500 films of varying lengths not only in Black and White but he even hand painted each cell of some of the films.

A good number of the films that Méliès produced had fantastical or science fiction themes to them similar to the video below of his A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) loosely based on H. G. Wells The First Men in the Moon and Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.

 

A Trip to the Moon (1902) Restored

Youtube Notes on the restoration:
No hand-colored prints of A Trip to the Moon were known to survive until 1993, when one was given to the Filmoteca de Catalunya by an anonymous donor as part of a collection of two hundred silent films. In 2010, a complete restoration of the hand-colored print was launched by Lobster Films, the Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema, and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage. The digitized fragments of the hand-colored print were reassembled and restored, with missing frames recreated with the help of a black-and-white print in the possession of the Méliès family, and time-converted to run at an authentic silent-film speed, 14 frames per second. The restoration was completed in 2011 at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles.

The restored version premiered on 11 May 2011, eighteen years after its discovery and 109 years after its original release, at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with a new soundtrack by the French band Air.

 

Méliès constructed an enormous studio for the production of his films. The studio was recreated for the film Hugo as well as many of the elaborate sets used.
George Méliès could be considered the father of filmmaking as an art or at the very least the original special effects magician.
Sadly, Méliès died in poverty at the age of 76 in 1938 having been made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur several years before.
I continue to be fascinated by his work as I discover more of it. We should all aspire to the level of attention to detail and ingenuity he displayed in his films.

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Updated: May 4, 2018 — 9:14 am

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