Decades before the term "special effects" was coined, audiences of the newborn cinema were witnessing spectacular screen illusions, courtesy of the medium's first master magician: Georges Melies. Melies' astounding employm... more »ent of double exposure, makeup, editing and theatrical trickery still command the power to surprise and bewilder and can now be seen for the first time with crystal clarity in fifteen beautifully restored films, accompanied by newly composed scores. Includes the documentary "Georges Melies: Cinema Magician," plus the Melies shorts "An Impossible Voyage" (struck from an original hand-colored negative), "The Black Imp," "The Cook in Trouble," "The Living Playing Cards," and 11 more!« less
Wonderful introduction to the work of a film pioneer
audrey | white mtns | 01/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Between 1896 and 1912, Georges Melies produced over 500 films. Fifteen of them are found here, along with a twenty minute documentary about Melies. The documentary is unusual, told as a first person narrative with other voices occasionally reminiscing about Georges as a boy, etc. As I say, it is unusual but interesting, and we learn that Monsieur Melies' parents allowed him to leave the family shoe factory so that he could pursue his own different drummer. He became a magician and actor, later falling in love with the Lumiere brothers' cinematographe; unable to buy a Lumiere machine, he invented his own combination camera-projector and began showing his films at carnivals and fairs. After making many films, Melies finished his life running a toy shop with an old flame.If the Lumieres were the first film documentarians, Melies was the first film wizard, and these fifteen examples of his work are still a pleasure to watch. Magnificently preserved and restored, they look fabulous and are entertaining almost one hundred years later. The films found here are: The Impossible Voyage; The Untamable Whiskers; The Cook in Trouble; Tchin-chao, the Chinese Conjurer; The Wonderful Living Fan; The Mermaid; The Living Playing Cards; The Black Imp; The Enchanted Sedan Chair; The Scheming Gambler's Paradise; The Hilarious Posters; The Mysterious Retort; The Eclipse; Good Glue Sticks; and Long Distance Wireless Photography. Melies' best known work, A Trip to the Moon (1902), is not here, but on the Landmarks of early Film, Volume 1, collection."
Another Beautiful and Fascinating Historical Release
rkass | Boston, MA | 10/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sure many people will feel like I do; that there's a great fascination in seeing what was being done with film in the early 1900's. Many are familiar with "A Trip to the Moon" (which is not included here, but is presented in its entirety, with narration, in VOLUME 1), but these lesser known films offer much interest and enjoyment.I especially like seeing the props and sets created for these surreal films. The hand-coloring on "The Impossible Voyage" is a wonderful feature. I also find it very interesting that at this early stage in filmmaking, the optical effects don't look nearly as primitive as one would expect.As in other historical releases by Image, the prints are very clear. A beautiful presentation!"
keviny01 | 07/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful disc opens with a 20-minute documentary view of French film pioneer Georges Méliés, then followed by 15 of his films, beautifully restored and presented uncut:The Impossible Voyage (1904) (with hand-colored tint and narration written by Méliés), The Untamable Whiskers (1904), The Cook in Trouble (1904), Tchin-Tao: The Chinese Conjurer (1904), The Wonderful Living Fan (1904), The Mermaid (1904), The Living Playing Cards (1905), The Black Imp (1905), The Enchanted Sedan Chair (1905), The Scheming Gambler's Paradise (1905), the Hilarious Posters (1905), The Mysterious Retort (1906), The Eclipse (1907), Good Glue Sticks (1907), Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908).Missing on this disc, of course, is Méliés' masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon (1902). You'll have to get Landmarks of Early Film Volume 1 to get that. I sincerely recommend both Vol. 1 and 2 to any film fan or collector."
Melies is fabulous!
keviny01 | 07/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For my money one of the most underrated filmmakers in history, Melies' movies are a joy to watch. It's true you don't see the sophistication in film style that D.W. Griffith brought to his movies, but for anyone who today understands what the expression "film magic" means, Melies is the one who started it all. Not all of the films on this disk are completely captivating, but they certainly capture someone playing around with different ways to perform film magic and entertain an audience. Although his "voyage to the moon" is well placed in volume 1 of the "landmarks" series, along with other important early films, it is missed here. I can't say for certain because I AM a fan, but some may not enjoy this DVD as much because it is so heavy on Melies' shorter pieces (there is only one longer film in here, and for me it is a highlight). The short pieces can be fun, but I don't think they necessarily show Melies at his best - telling a complete, if totally whimsical and fantastic story."
A master magician
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 01/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though these films are nearly all 100 years old or older, they still have the power to entertain, fascinate, delight, and charm. Decades before moviegoing audiences were familiar with computer special effects and had lost the sense of wonder that audiences had at the turn of the last century, Georges Méliès (one of my favorite directors) was creating amazing magical trick shots and special effects just by drawing on his own past career as a magician and by using his imagination. He did all of these tricks by himself instead of relying on a computer, and not only did he do the special effects by himself, he did everything else associated with the film-making process. He directed, produced, wrote, acted in, and distributed all of these films. People who only know him by his best-known film 'Le Voyage Dans la Lune' are missing out on a whole lot. The 15 films contained on this disc show that he did a lot more than just that early sci-fi film. The first film, the longest, is 'Le Voyage à Travers l'Impossible' (1904), which in many ways seems like a sequel to 'Le Voyage Dans la Lune.' Here the travellers and their brave leader are travelling into the Sun, and also have a series of mishaps along the way before coming home victorious. This film is also hand-colored (though given its extreme age, the colors are a bit faded), and with a narration by Fabrice Zagury, the same one who narrates 'Le Voyage Dans la Lune.' The narration doesn't bother me, since it's my understanding that both of these films were originally meant to be accompanied by this narration when shown in theatres, and besides, without any intertitles, this story can seem a bit confusing because of how complex it is. There are also 14 shorter subjects, many of them reenactments of Monsieur Méliès's magic act, only even better and with more potential to stun an audience thanks to the moving image and what appears to be a nonstop stream of magic tricks instead of the more mundane explanation of stopping and starting the camera again to achieve these breathtaking stunts. The short documentary which starts the disc is also very good, giving the viewer a concise but nevertheless compelling and detailed look into Monsieur Méliès's life and career. My only complaint about the disc is that it wasn't longer and didn't have a lot more than just 15 of these amazing films on it!"