1903 in Movies

Movie reviews for short films (movies) made in 1903.

 

1. “Kingdom of Fairies,” directed by Georges Melies (9/10)

Another colorized “epic,” this one is less successful than his first three. It’s still really impressive, it’s just not quite a must see.

 

2. “The Melomaniac,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

A new trick this time, Melies creates a musical staff out of telegraph wires and then uses his heads (because he always has more than one…) to indicate the notes.

 

3. “The Infernal Cauldron,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Another colorized film, one that is remarkably restrained in terms of effects but is narratively as provocative as his other pieces on the devil.

 

4. “The Monster,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

For such a short running time, Melies puts in a lot more narrative content than usual. The genesis for The Mummy?

 

5. “The Ballet Master’s Dream,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Melies uses his tricks to greater purposes here, creating dreamscapes instead of just hauntings.

 

6. “Jack Jaggs and Dum Dum,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Melies plays with his career and gets pretty meta as he is in competition with another magician here.

 

7. “The Enchanted Well,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Melies moves back to using his tricks for narrative purposes and the results are pretty good.

 

8. “Damnation of Faust,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Whether this was made in 1899 (IMDB) or 1903 (DVD collection I watched it on) this is probably the first film version of the Faust legend, and it uses backdrops in altogether new ways. It’s a pretty neat little film.

Note: Melies re-used his titles – or his American distributor did – perhaps more than anyone else in cinematic history, so there is often confusion as to which film we are viewing.

 

9. “The Magic Lantern,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A new setting again and that makes the tricks a little more interesting. It’s a all a bit meta again, and this time there’s a film projector.

 

10. “Jupiter’s Thunderballs,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A new setting – heaven – facilitates some goofiness around thunder and lightning.

 

11. “Bob Kick, the Mischievous Kid,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Milies is sort of miscast here, but otherwise this is a fairly new spin on his old tricks.

 

12. “The Inn Where No Man Rests,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

This is a more elaborate version of one of Melies’ oldest gags. It’s certainly more interesting than those earlier versions, but it’s still the same gag.

 

13. “Apparitions,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A more polished play on Melies regular gag of a man in a room molested by the room.

 

14. “The Witch’s Revenge,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

This film uses a brief plot to establish Melies’ tricks. It’s more of the usual from him, just a little more elaborate.

 

15. “The Infernal Cake Walk,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

As someone else noted, this is like a talent show in hell. Some neat effects.

 

16. “The Oracle of Delphi,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A new setting for some of his usual tricks.

 

17. “Extraordinary Illusions,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

More of his magic act. A little more elaborate.

 

18.“The Mysterious Box,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Some more magic tricks. A little more interesting than usual, though the stock is damaged.

 

19. “The Drawing Lesson,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

His usual tricks, in a new setting, but not as many “tricks per minute” as you might say.

 

20. “Ten Ladies in an Umbrella,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Essentially the same gag as the one with the women in a barrel.

 

21. “A Spiritualist Photographer,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

An often used gag from Melies is repeated once again.

 

22. “Comical Conjuring,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

A different backdrop, but more of the same tricks and gags.

 

23. “Misfortune Never Comes Alone,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

A straight-up slapstick film utterly unique among his oeuvre that I’ve seen (at least so far) in that it is completely free from camera tricks.

 

24. “Alcofribas, the Master Magician,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Melies is reusing a lot of gags here. Given its runtime, that’s too bad.

 

25. “Seeing New York by Yacht” (1903), directed by Frederick S. Armitage and A.E. Weed (4/10)

Exactly what it says it is.