1908 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies made in 1908. The year is taken from IMDB.

 

1. “The Dream of an Opium Fiend,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

Melies combines his penchant for elaborate dream sequences with social comment (usually the two are separate and the dream sequences are far more common than the social comment). His social comment is way more effective here, because this film is funny, where usually his social films are not. Usual tricks but all to a greater purpose here. Cool.

 

2. “Long Distance Wireless Photography,” Georges Melies (8/10)

Melies takes the idea of an object or mirror or what have you reflecting who people really are – that’s an old one, right? – and adds it to his usual gag of paintings coming alive, which makes it seem new. The set is great too.

 

3. “The Genii of Fire,” directed by Georges Melies (8/10)

A really great use of sets and a new story make this one well worth watching.

 

4. “Grandmother’s Story,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

It feels like Melies had abandoned his magic by 1908, but this film shows you otherwise.

 

5. “The Woes of Roller Skates,” Georges Melies (7/10)

Melies takes on roller skating with reasonably inventive results.

 

6. “The New Lord of the Village,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

Melies usually had someone read to his audiences for his longer films and that isn’t present here. Nor are title cards. That makes it a bit confusing, as has been noted elsewhere. But it’s still a reasonably entertaining piece once it gets going and we figure out what’s happening (hint: revenge).

 

7. “Not Guilty,” directed by Georges Melies (7/10)

This is one of Melies attempts at a serious subject, but it’s longer than usual. Normally that would be a bad sign, but this is competent and shows that when he wanted to, he could still make a decent film.

 

8. “In the Barber Shop,” Georges Melies (6/10)

A new setting for Melies. And racial humour instead of slapstick back when that thing was more than acceptable.

 

9. “The Thieving Hand” [no director listed] (6/10*)

Don’t remember it.

 

10. “The Prophetess of Phebes,” directed by Georges Melies (6/10)

Another fragment, but this one appears to be of a film that might have been really worth watching if it had survived. Too bad.

 

11. “A Tricky Painter’s Fate,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

The reversal of one of his oldest gags but not even using the actual camera trick. It’s fleshed out with routine slapstick.

 

12. “Why That Actor Was Late,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

Here Melies is reviving a super old conceit of his, but making it more elaborate and blaming other actors instead of spirits. It’s alright.

 

13. “The Mischances of a Photographer,” directed Georges Melies (5/10)

If feel like, at this point, Melies had also begun to rely on the photography shtick a little too much. Nothing really new here.

 

14. “Side Show Wrestlers,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

A fairly innocuous thing. Long for its subject matter.

 

15. “The Good Luck of a Souse,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

Unusual for him, one of his rare serious films. Meh.

 

16. “The Indian Sorcerer,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

His magic act dressed up. By now, I’ve seen this a ton…

 

17. “Pharmaceutical Hallucinations,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

Melies’ backdrops are better than ever, but he has almost completely abandoned his trademark effects. Boring.

 

18. “The Miser,” directed by Georges Melies (5/10)

This is a fragment. And the film was apparently significantly longer. Social comment…

 

19. The Good Shepherdess and the Evil Process, directed by Georges Melies (4/10)

Basically a play on stage…

 

20. “His First Job,” directed by Georges Melies (4/10)

Very routine slapstick short. Nothing much of note.

 

21. “The Broken Violin,” directed by Georges Melies (4/10)

A fragment and we don’t get enough to really judge.

 

21. “Buncoed Stage Johnnie,” directed Georges Melies (4/10)

A fragment.

 

22. “French Cops Learning English,” directed by Georges Melies (3/10)

As you can tell from the title, not a gag that suits a silent film… The low-light so far.