1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 2009, Movies

Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913 (2009)

This is a collection of many – but hardly a majority or all – of George Melies’ short films from when he got into cinema shortly after the invention of the medium until 1913, when his various personal problems consumed him and he stopped making films. (Note that many of Melies’ films have been lost forever due to improper archiving and various other issues.)

If you have never seen any of Melies’ films before – and I hadn’t – you are really missing out. Melies truly was the ‘first wizard of the cinema.’ He was an early pioneer of numerous film techniques that helped create unusual sights on the screen, both to allow his magic act to be shown to numerous other people, and to go down new avenues that the other pioneers of cinema – the Lumieres and Edison – were not interested in, namely narrative fiction.

Melies changed cinema in ways that few of us now realize. And his films are among the most inventive and engaging of their era. A few of his longer short films are among the greatest movies ever made, something I don’t say lightly.

As he got older, other filmmakers passed him by, coming up with new techniques and, more importantly, more sophisticated narratives while Melies re-told the same “stories” over and over.

But these films are still worth your time, especially the best of the lot. I would highly recommend YouTubing the following films:

  • “The Haunted Castle” (1896)
  • “The Bewitched Inn” (1897)
  • “Divers at Work on the Wreck of the ‘Main'” (1898)
  • “The Astronomer’s Dream” (1898)
  • “The Pillar of Fire” (1899)
  • “Joan of Arc” (1900)
  • “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) – one of the greatest films ever made, bar none, and probably the greatest film made to that point in history
  • “The Human Fly” (1902)
  • “Gulliver’s Travel Among the Lilliputians and the Giants” (1902)
  • “An Impossible Voyage” (1904) – though a spin on the earlier masterpiece, another crazy, epic film for its era.

Well worth the time of any film or history buff.

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