- MELIES, Georges
- (1861-1938)French film pioneer. A natural showman, GM began his theatrical career as a conjurer, designing his own trick gadgets. In 1888 his wealthy family provided him with the finances to buy the Theatre Robert-Houdin, and his magic shows there became famous. In 1896, inspiredby the Lumiere brothers, he acquired a motion-picture camera and began making his own short films. He realized the medium's potential for creating illusions, and was soon producing many films utilizing trick photography as well as the stage effects built into his theatre.His most successful period was 1897-1902. It was in 1902 that he made Le VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE , which is regarded as the first sf movie epic (21 mins long,at a time when 5min movies were the norm). His work was popular in many countries, but even by 1904, when he made Le VOYAGE A TRAVERS L'IMPOSSIBLE , audiences were requiring more than just trick films. By 1913 he wasforced out of business. During WWI many of the negatives of his films were destroyed, and much of his work was lost forever. He enjoyed a comeback in the late 1920s when his surviving films were rediscovered by the French intellectuals of the period. He died with the satisfaction of being recognized as one of the CINEMA's true innovators; he had pioneered many of the techniques on which all subsequent sf cinema has been based.He has also been claimed, retrospectively, as a Surrealist pioneer, but the truth is that his emphasis on mere trickery (and also his use of what was in effect a proscenium arch, so that all action is seen as if it is stage action witnessed from the seats of a theatre) is a long way removed from art; not only does it seem crude now but, after the novelty had worn off, it quickly came to seem crude then.JB/PN
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.