1902 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies (short films) made in 1902. Dates from IMDB.

 

1. “A Trip to the Moon,” directed by Georges Melies (10/10)

Melies most famous film is probably also his best. He had covered similar narrative territory (combining story with his legendary effects) in “Joan of Arc” but here he is more ambitious and his customary sense of humour is on full display (which it is not in “Joan of Arc” obviously). This one of the great early films – among the few most important before features came into existence. It is on the short list for best film of the decade. Absolutely essential for anyone interested in film history or early cinema. Oh yeah, and the birth of science fiction in film.

 

2. “Gulliver’s Travels Among the Lilliputians and the Giants,” directed by Georges Melies (10/10)

This is the first film adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s story and even if it is hardly complete – it’s 4 minutes long – it’s still one of the great films of its era. Low budget filmmakers were still using this trick to make terrible horror movies in the ‘70s (Food of the Gods) and they are as well done here as then.

Remarkable.

 

3. “The Human Fly,” directed by Georges Melies (10/10)

Another of Melies’ experiments with colour. This is of interest for that alone. The rest of it, though, is no less daring, showing the dancer literally climb the walls, an effect which I don’t think had ever been created before.

 

4. “The Impossible Balancing Feat,” directed by Georges Melies (9/10)

Melies balances himself using the same tricks he used in “The Human Fly” and it’s only slightly less impressive.

 

5. “Down the Hudson,” directed by Frederick S. Armitage and A.E. Weed (8/10*)

I saw this before I saw any Melies movies, and probably thought this was impressive for 1902.

 

6. “Jack and the Beanstalk,” directed by George S. Fleming and Edwin S. Porter (8/10)

The earliest attempt at filming this story?

 

7. “The Shadow Girl,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

After the triumph of “Journey to the Moon” this is a bit of a letdown. Another of Melies’ magic acts. It’s more complicated than normal, though.

 

8. “The Treasures of Satan,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Same old tricks, new use. Reasonably interesting as these things go.

 

9. “The Colonel’s Shower Bath,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Melies takes his ‘two floors on one screen’ approach and adapts it for a new situation. But it’s just one joke.

 

10. “The Dancing Midget,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Melies continues his magic acts. In this case he combines a couple of his tropes.

 

11. “The Marvellous Wreath,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

More magic tricks. More elaborate than usual, but still just his act.

 

12. “Coronation of Their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

Exactly what it says it is. Well, it’s not the real thing. But it’s exactly what it is, anyway. A very odd choice for Melies. Probably just getting a cheque.

 

13. “Scene on Lower Broadway” [no director listed] (5/10)

Exactly what it says it is.

 

14. “Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River,” directed by J.B. Smith (5/10)

Exactly what it says it is.

 

15. “Starting a Skyscraper” [no director listed] (4/10)

Exactly what it says it is.