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The Magic of Méliès

4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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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

Special Features

None.

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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013LPS3Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Magic of Méliès" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By A Customer on February 10, 2003
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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By A Customer on February 28, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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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.
Comment 16 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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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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