1904 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies (short films) released in 1904.

 

1. “An Impossible Voyage,” directed by Georges Melies (10/10)

Melies’ longest film to date is his most ambitious and among his very best. Perhaps I’d go so far as to say it is among the best of the decade. It’s an extraordinary work that stands as (probably) the closest thing to what we would think of as conventional narrative film yet achieved. But, in addition to that, it is, like all of Melies’ work, extraordinarily inventive. And, like much of his best work, it is colorized.

An incredible achievement like little else of its time.

 

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

This starts off as if it was one of Melies’ usual magician performance films. But there’s a pretty huge twist that makes it much more worthwhile.

 

3. “The Terrible Turkish Executioner,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

This is a darkly comic use of Melies’ tricks.

 

4. “A Moonlight Serenade,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Another new setting, and this time it’s one that reuses some old props. It’s an interesting, vaguely meta short.

 

5. “The Firefall,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Yet another magic show, but this one has costumes (which imply character) and an absolutely stellar background painting (which changes). More ambitious than in the past.

 

6. “A Miracle Under the Inquisition,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

What starts off as a serious religious film – with a great painting as the background – quickly turns into one of Melies’ dark comedies.

Elements have been used before, but it’s not bad.

 

7. “The Untamable Whiskers,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A new spin on some old tricks. Melies uses wigs and his usual camera tricks and some drawing to make an enjoyably slight little piece.

 

8. “The Imperceptible Transmutations,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

This is a decent reinterpretation of a number of Melies regular tricks.

 

9. “Tit for Tat,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

A lot of the usual tricks, just some slightly different spins on them.

 

10. “The Clock Maker’s Dream,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

This is the same conceit as the ballet dream, only this is more magical.

 

11. “The Living Playing Cards,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Another magic act. This is a new variation as well, but it uses old tricks and is a little less interesting than some of his other works of this ilk.

 

12. “The Cook in Trouble,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

A variation on Melies’ recent slapstick efforts with a new moral – a moral!, something he rarely used. A little long for the plot.

 

13. “Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjurer,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

This is basically a “Chinese” spin on Melies’ usual stuff.

 

14. “The Devilish Plank,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Yet another magic trick. This one is okay.

 

15. “The Bewitched Trunk,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

More typical tricks.

 

16. “Faust and Marguerite,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

The second version of Faust is using some overlaid film (I think) and so should be really interesting but is significantly weaker than the original attempt.

 

17. “The Wonderful Living Fan,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

Yet another variation on Melies’ magic act.