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The Magic of Méliès (2008)

Georges Melies  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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The Magic of Méliès + Landmarks of Early Film, Vol. 1 + Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema 1896-1913
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Product Details

  • Directors: Georges Melies
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: April 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013LPS3Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,418 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Magic of Méliès" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

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 Méliès. Such films as THE ECLIPSE (1907) and LONG DISTANCE WIRELESS PHOTOGRAPHY (1908) not only demonstrate Méliès s astounding employment of double exposure, makeup, editing and theatrical trickery but provide mesmerizing insight into the social context of his work, which blended Victorian approaches to astronomy, superstition and feminine beauty with the unnatural wonders of 20th-century technology and heavy doses of slapstick. The centerpiece of the collection is THE IMPOSSIBLE VOYAGE (1904), presented with the authentic frame-by-frame hand-coloring and narration penned by Méliès himself. GEORGES MÉLIÈS: CINEMA MAGICIAN is a documentary on the filmmaker s life, integrating rare photographs, early drawings and numerous clips. It charts Méliès rise from shoe factory worker to proprietor of Paris s mystical Théatre Robert-Houdin, where he learned the skills to become a cinematic illusionist and developed an interest in the supernatural, exquisitely represented in The Mysterious Retort (1906) and The Black Imp (1905).

THE FILMS:
The Untamable Whiskers (1904)
The Cook in Trouble (1904)
Tchin-Chao, the Chinese Conjurer (1904)
The Wonderful Living Fan (1904)
The Mermaid (1904)
The Impossible Voyage (1904)
The Living Playing Cards (1905)
The Black Imp (1905)
The Enchanted Sedan Chair (1905)
The Scheming Gamblers Paradise (1905)
The Hilarious Posters (1906)
The Mysterious Retort (1906)
The Eclipse (1907)
Good Glue Sticks (1907)
Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908)
PLUS:
Georges Méliès: Cinema Magician (USA, 1978, 20m, Color/B&W) A Film by Patrick Montgomery & Luciano Martinengo

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
(22)
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Melies, Please February 1, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I hate complain when anyone bothers to release rarities has enjoyable as George Melies collections, but the images are too tightly cropped! There looks to be about a 20-25% picture loss on these prints compared to the Blackhawk Films prints or even the Kino Melies DVD I own. I've never seen the explorers in Trip To The Moon climb into the rocket off screen!? It's a great collection, the documentary is very good, and I still think it's worth owning, but I don't get the framing which will probably bug anyone who has seen these films elsewhere.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid logos ruin this DVD! February 10, 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
I bought this DVD because I am a fan of silent era films and especially people like Melies and Winsor McCay. Sadly though, this DVD is utterly ruined. Someone thought it was a good idea to super-impose a gawd-awful white logo in the lower left hand side of the film, creating a distraction and a nuisance. I recommend against buying this DVD because it will encourage others to pull this nonsense. Would you like to see a beautiful restoration of Star Wars with a nasty Lucasfilms logo on top of it??? Didn't think so.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware February 28, 2002
Format:DVD
This DVD seems to have missed its target audience completely. The biography of Melies, designed for those not familiar with his work, is far too long to hold the interest of a casual viewer. The dramatized format of the DVD and the presentation of the films in the context of a story, however, will seem obtrusive to anyone who has bought this for the original documents. The only saving grace is that 15 of Melies' films are captured in a way which reminds the viewer exactly why Melies was such a genius. The lack of technology available forced him to manipulate film to create optical illusions, whereas the modern day Steven Spielbergs and James Camerons can simply send their works off to multimillion dollar digital editing studios. Melies background as a magician is apparrent, because he uses many of the tricks he learned in the theater to make films which can only be described as magical. If you're a fan of silent films or the avante-garde, then by all means pick this up. However, if you have only a cursory interest in the genre, then you may want to spend your money elsewhere.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Well Restored May 5, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Do NOT buy this DVD. I found these prints unwatchable.

Although this DVD appears to be an excellent selection of Melies' best films, with good music accompaniment, the images are dirty and scratched; they are also too contrasty, which causes some of the darks to be SO dark that the picture blocks-up and you can't see what's going on in an important part of the screen. Worst of all, the frame-registration is not stable, so the picture constantly shakes up and down and around, which is very hard on the eyes and makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot watch these films without thinking about how old they are and how awful they look.

SAVE your pennies and BUY the big set from Flicker Alley, called "George Melies: First Wizard of Cinema". IF you like Melies AT ALL, you will never regret buying that wonderful set. David Shepard and his restoring associates have done a spectacular job of stabilizing the images, and cleaning up the films. Of course, not all the movies were capable of much restoration, but many look as pristine as the day they were first screened. "A Cook In Trouble" is a prime example. There is NO OTHER MELIES DVD around that comes anywhere CLOSE to the quality you will find on the Flicker Alley release.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A redo of a previous Kino DVD on Melies March 14, 2008
Format:DVD
This appears to be a redo of a DVD that Kino has as part of its DVD set The Movies Begin - A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1913. It appears to have the same films by Melies that the earlier DVD had, but this new DVD also has the 20-minute documentary "Georges Méliès: Cinema Magician" directed by Patrick Montgomery and Luciano Martinengo. I just hope that Kino got rid of the one rather annoying aspect of the entire "The Movies Begin" set, which is the text notes that serve as a poor substitute for a commentary track.

Melies was one of the early pioneers in special effects for the movies, and he artfully combined medieval and Victorian views of society and science with modern technology. The result was often comedy blended with social commentary. The list of films include:

The Impossible Voyage (1904)
The Untamable Whiskers (1904)
The Cook in Trouble (1904)
Tchin-Chao, 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 Gamblers Paradise (1905)
The Hilarious Posters (1906)
The Mysterious Retort (1906)
The Eclipse (1907)
Good Glue Sticks (1907)
Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908)

If you can afford the new DVD set Georges Melies: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913), that is probably going to be far superior to this set. However, this is probably a good economical introduction to Melies.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it myself January 23, 2004
Format:DVD
Personally, I enjoyed this DVD, especially the rare Melies color films. A joy to watch. Also his very early film with his four heads talking on a table. The color tinted films are quite delightful too.
As for the narration, Melies granddaughter (whose voice you hear) made it clear that in the days before titles were used in silents, people like Melies verbally narrated the action in such films to their audiences. Gives you a kind of "you are there" feel.
But in either case, lovers of Disney and fantasy films in general should flock to this, as Meleis was the grand master who strarted it all. Great to watch with kids too (aside from the hanging scene in "Blue Beard").
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, for someone of the television age, old ...
Unfortunately, for someone of the television age, old silent movies are difficult to watch. I thought this may be a documentary about Melies, but it is a collection of his... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mark S. Batchelor
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
An amazing look at early cinema! What Melies could produce visually at such an early stage in film is entertaining, intriguing, amazing.... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joe Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
If you have any interest in the history of film this is a great product. There are other similar themed products out there but by my experience this is one of the best.
Published 5 months ago by Clint_fromAZ
4.0 out of 5 stars Fan of Melies
This is an excellent collection of Melies work. Almost everyone on the planet has seen the picture of theman in the moon with a bullet in the eye. Read more
Published 7 months ago by David Worrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series
A longtime fan of Melies. It was just wonderful to find some of his works together in a streamable movie. Well done.
Published 7 months ago by Paul Menard
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely magical look at Georges Melies
An absolutely magical look at Georges Melies. An outstanding tribute to his genius and a wonderful compilation of his surviving films.
Published 13 months ago by Tim Scheidler
3.0 out of 5 stars o.k.
did not watch the whole thing. it was ok and was what we were looking for which was to get information on Melies
Published 17 months ago by Jessie L
5.0 out of 5 stars Melies IS magic
Georges Melies was a magician who realized immediately what moving pictures could do, and he planned, produced, acted in, and financed 500 movies before World War 1. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jeanne Purdy
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of Melies
Searched the site to find DVDs of Melies as my son is an animator. Viewing the first, The Magic of Melies, we were pleased with the DVD and look forward to viewing the other... Read more
Published on May 17, 2012 by Georgina
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice.
The films on this set are well restored, and look very good. They are presented as if we are in the audience watching a festival, which can be a bit annoying, but overall, the... Read more
Published on August 3, 2006 by Mark Pollock
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