Georges Méliès

Knowledge Identifier: +Georges_Melies

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Georges Melies

French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema add

Category: Movies & TV

Born in 1861.

Countries: France (31%), United States (25%), (19%)

Main connections: Thomas Edison, Auguste and Louis Lumiere, Louis Le Prince

Linked to: Star Film Company, Gaumont Film Company, American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, Motion Picture Patents Company

 

Timeline


 

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Georges Melies was born in 1861 add something


1880

Méliès graduated from the Lycée with a baccalauréat in 1880 add something


1885

Méliès returned to Paris in 1885 with a new desire: to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts add something


1888

In 1888 Méliès's father retired, and Georges Méliès sold his share of the family shoe business to his two brothers add something

 

Together they had two children: Georgette, born in 1888, and André, born in 1901 add something

 

Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin - After his death, Emile's widow sold the theatre to Georges Méliès in 1888

 

George Eastman - Roll film was the basis for the invention of motion picture film in 1888 by the world's first film-makers Eadweard Muybridge and Louis Le Prince, and a few years later by their followers Léon Bouly, Thomas Edison, the Lumière Brothers, and Georges Méliès


1895

In 1895, Méliès was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale des Artistes Illusionistes add something

 

On 28 December 1895 Méliès was present at the first public screening of the Lumière brothers' films at the Grand Café in Paris add something

 

Cinematography - This film was among those exported to Europe with the first Kinetoscope machines in 1895, and was seen by Georges Méliès, who was putting on magic shows in his Theatre Robert-Houdin in Paris at the time


1896

At the end of 1896 he and Reulos founded the Star Film Company, with Lucien Korsten acting as his primary camera operator add something

 

Between 1896 and 1900 Méliès made ten advertisements for such products as whiskey, chocolate, and baby cereal add something

 

In total Méliès made 78 films in 1896 and 53 in 1897 add something

 

Méliès directed 531 films between 1896 and 1913, ranging in length from one to forty minutes add something

 

By April 1896 the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was showing films as part of its daily performances add something

 

Méliès began shooting his first films in May 1896, and screening them at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin by that August add something

 

In September 1896 he, Korsten and Reulos patented the Kinètographe Robert-Houdin, an iron-cast camera-projector, which Méliès referred to as his "coffee grinder" and "machine gun" because of the noise that it made add something

 

In September 1896, Méliès began to build a film studio on his property in Montreuil, just outside of Paris add something

 

L'Arroseur Arrose - Little is known about most of these copies, although one known remake was filmed by Georges Méliès, titled "L'Arroseur", in 1896


1897

By 1897 technology had caught up and better cameras were put on sale in Paris, leading Méliès to discard his own camera and purchase several better cameras made by Gaumont, Lumière, and Pathé add something

 

In 1897, Georges Brunel wrote that "MM. Méliès and Reulos have above all made a speciality of fantastic or artistic scenes, reproductions of theatre scenes, etc add something

 

In September 1897 Méliès attempted to turn the Théâtre Robert-Houdin into a movie theatre with fewer magic shows and film screenings every night add something

 

But by late December 1897 film screenings were limited to Sunday nights only add something

 

Cinematography - The standard pattern for early film studios was provided by the studio which Georges Méliès had built in 1897


1898

In the film Méliès stars as Professor Barbenfouillis, a character similar to the astronomer he played in "The Astronomer's Dream" in 1898 add something

 

Méliès made only 30 films in 1898, but his work was becoming more ambitious and elaborate add something


1899

Méliès continued to experiment with special effects in 1899, for example in the early horror film "Robbing Cleopatra's Tomb" add something

 

Méliès's films were particularly popular, and "Cinderella" was often screened as a featured attraction even years after its US release in December 1899 add something


1900

In 1900 Méliès had made 33 films, including the 13 minute "Joan of Arc", starring Bleuette Bernon in the title role add something


1901

In 1901 Méliès continued producing successful films and was at the peak of his popularity add something

 

Andre Deed - In 1901, cinema pioneer Georges Méliès directed André Deed in several films


1902

In 1902 Méliès began to experiment with camera movement to create the illusion of a character changing size add something

 

Méliès's enormous success in 1902 continued with his three other major productions of that year add something

 

New films have occasionally been discovered but the majority that were preserved come from the US Library of Congress, due to Gaston Méliès submitting paper prints of each frame of all new Star Films in order to preserve copyright when he set up the American branch of Star Films in 1902 add something

 

The Edison Company's 1902 film "Jack and the Beanstalk", directed by Edwin S. Porter, was considered a less successful American version of several Méliès films, particularly "Bluebeard" add something

 

In May 1902 Méliès made his most famous film, "A Trip to the Moon" add something

 

He travelled to New York in November 1902 and discovered the extent of the piracy in the US, such as Biograph having paid royalties on Méliès's film to film promoter Charles Urban add something

 

George Albert Smith (film pioneer) - In 1902 Smith collaborated with old friend Georges Méliès at the Star Films studio in Montreil, Paris, on a pre-enactment of the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra commissioned by Charles Urban of the Warwick Trading Company after rival company Mutoscope and Biograph acquired the rights to film the actual event

 

From the Earth to the Moon - The novel inspired the first science fiction film, "A Trip to the Moon," made in 1902 by Georges Méliès

 

Martin van Maele - The title later became the classic 1902 sci-fi silent film called "Le Voyage Dans La Lune", produced by Georges Méliès


1903

In 1903 Méliès made "The Kingdom of the Fairies", which film critic Jean Mitry has called "undoubtedly Méliès's best film, and in any case the most intensely poetic add something

 

Thomas L. Tally debuted the film at his Los Angeles based Lyric Theater in 1903 under the billing "Better than "A Trip to the Moon" add something

 

Segundo de Chomon - Charles Pathé noted the quality of De Chomón's trick films and, from 1903, began to support these efforts with the desire of competing with Georges Méliès


1904

He continued making "high art" films later in 1904 with "The Barber of Seville" add something

 

His major production of 1904 was "The Impossible Voyage", a film similar to "A Trip to the Moon" about an expedition around the world, into the oceans and even to the sun add something

 

In 1904 he made a sequel, "Faust and Marguerite" add something

 

In late 1904, Thomas Edison sued the American production company Paley & Steiner over copyright infringement for films that had stories, characters and even shot set-ups exactly like films that Edison had made add something

 

Later in 1904, Folies Bergère director Victor de Cottens invited Méliès to create a special effects film to be included in his theaters revue add something


1905

In 1905 Victor de Cottens asked Méliès to collaborate with him on "The Merry Deeds of Satan", a theatrical revue for the Théâtre du Châtelet add something

 

Méliès made 22 films in 1905, including the adventure "The Palace of the Arabian Nights" and the "féerie" "Rip's Dream", based on the Rip Van Winkle legend and the opera by Robert Planquette add something


1906

He made eighteen films in 1906, including a film version of "The Merry Frolics of Satan" and "The Witch" add something


1907

In 1907 Méliès created three new illusions for the stage and performed them at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin add something

 

In a 1907 interview, Méliès stated that "every second the actor plays different scene ten times has to remember, while the film is rolling, exactly what he did at the same point in the preceeding scenes and the exact place where he was on the stage add something

 

Many film critics, such as Jean Mitry and Georges Sadoul, have singled out 1907 as the year that Méliès's work began to decline and, in the film scholar Miriam Rosen's words, to "lapse into the repetition of old formulas on the one hand and an uneasy imitation of new trends on the other add something

 

This pessimistic film retells the history of humans from Cain and Abel to the Hague Peace Conference of 1907 add something


1908

However, Gaston did not produce any films in 1908 add something

 

In 1908 Thomas Edison created the Motion Picture Patents Company as a way to control the film industry in the United States and Europe add something

 

Pathe - In 1908, Pathé distributed "Excursion to the Moon" by Segundo de Chomón, an imitation of Georges Méliès's "A Trip to the Moon"

 

Tartarin of Tarascon - The "'earliest"' cinematic version was a short, filmed in 1908 by the legendary and influential magician-cum-director, Georges Méliès


1909

Although inspired by such recent real life events as Robert Peary's expedition to the North Pole in 1909 and Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole in 1911, the film included such fantastic elements as a griffith-headed aerobus and a snow giant that was operated by twelve stage hands add something

 

In early 1909 Méliès stopped making films and in February he presided over the first meeting of the International Filmmakers Congress in Paris add something

 

Méliès resumed filmmaking in the autumn of 1909 add something


1910

Between 1910 and 1912, Georges Méliès produced only 20 films add something

 

But in the autumn of 1910, Méliès made a deal with Charles Pathé that would eventually destroy his film career add something

 

He produced over 130 films between 1910 and 1912, and he was the primary source of fulfilling Star Films's obligation to Thomas Edison's company add something

 

In 1910 Gaston set up a studio called the Star Films Ranch in San Antonio, Texas, where he began to produce Westerns add something

 

Méliès made 14 films in 1910, including "Whimsical Illusions", in which he performs a magic trick on stage add something

 

Cinema of the United States - They were quickly followed by others who either built new studios or who leased facilities in Fort Lee. In the 1910s and 1920s, film companies such as the Independent Moving Pictures Company, Peerless Studios, The Solax Company, Éclair Studios, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, American Méliès , World Film Company, Biograph Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Pathé Frères, Metro Pictures Corporation, Victor Film Company, and Selznick Pictures Corporation were all making pictures in Fort Lee. Such notables as Mary Pickford got their start at Biograph Studios


1911

By 1911 Gaston had renamed his branch of Star Films "American Wildwest Productions" and opened a studio in southern California add something

 

Méliès immediately began production on more elaborate films and among the seven films that he produced in 1911 were "Baron Munchausen's Dream" and "The Diabolical Church Window" add something


1912

After similar circumstances with "The Knight of the Snow" and "The Voyage of the Bourrichon Family" in late 1912, Méliès broke his contract with Pathé add something

 

In 1912, Méliès continued making ambitious films, most notably with the "féerie" "The Conquest of the Pole" add something

 

Meanwhile, Gaston Méliès had taken his family and a film crew of over 20 people to Tahiti in the summer of 1912 add something

 

Méliès was made the first president of the union, serving until 1912, and the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was the group's headquarters add something


1913

Although he was never able to make another film after 1913 or stage another theatrical performance after 1923, he continued to draw, write and advise younger film and theatrical admirers until the end of his life add something

 

For the rest of that year and well into 1913 he traveled throughout the South Pacific and Asia, sending footage back to his son in New York add something

 

The final crisis in 1913 was the death of Méliès's first wife Eugénie Génin in May, leaving him to raise their 12-year-old son André alone add something

 

When Méliès broke his contract with Pathé in 1913, he was too broke to pay back all the money that he owed the company add something


1914

But a moratorium that was declared when World War I began in 1914 prevented Pathé from legally repossessing his home and Montreuil studio add something


1915

Gaston eventually returned to Europe and died in 1915 add something


1917

In 1917 the French army turned the main studio building at his Montreuil studio into a hospital for wounded soldiers add something


1920

By the late 1920s, several journalists had begun to research Méliès and his life's work, creating new interest in him add something


1923

He and his family turned the second studio set into a theatrical stage and performed over 24 variety show revues there until 1923 add something

 

In 1923, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin was torn down in order to rebuild the Boulevard Haussmann add something


1925

In 1925 he married his longtime mistress Jeanne d'Alcy, and they lived together in Paris with Méliès's young granddaughter Madeleine Malthête-Méliès add something


1929

As his prestige began to grow in the film world, he was given more recognition and in December 1929 a gala retrospective of his work was held at the Salle Pleyel add something


1931

Eventually Georges Méliès was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur , the medal of which was presented to him in October of 1931 by Louis Lumière add something


1932

In 1932, the Cinema Society arranged a place for Méliès, his granddaughter Madeleine and Jeanne d'Alcy at La Maison du Retraite du Cinéma, the film industry's retirement home in Orly add something


1935

Langlois and Franju had met Méliès in 1935 with René Clair, and in 1936 rented an abandoned building on the property of the Orly retirement home to store their collection of film prints add something


1936

On being presented with the Legion of Honor in 1936, Walt Disney expressed gratitude for Méliès and his fellow pioneer Emile_Cohl (Émile_Cohl), saying that Cohl and Méliès "discovered the means of placing poetry within the reach of the man in the street add something


1937

By late 1937 Méliès had become very ill and Langlois arranged for him to be admitted to the Léopold Bellan Hospital in Paris add something


Georges Melies died in 1938 add something


1950

These factors include Méliès's destruction of his original negatives, the French army's confiscation of his prints and the typical deterioration of the majority of films made before 1950 add something


1992

Louis Le Prince - In 1992, the Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Oshii directed "Talking Head", an "avant-garde" feature film paying tribute to the cinematography history's tragic ending figures such as George Eastman, Georges Méliès and Louis Le Prince who is credited as "the true inventor of "eiga", Japanese for "motion picture film"


2000

Many of his earliest films were copies and remakes of the Lumière brothers films, made to compete with the 2000 daily customers of the Grand Café add something


2005

"Robbing Cleopatra's Tomb" was believed to be a lost film until a copy was discovered in 2005 in Paris add something


2007

Tribute is paid to Méliès in the 2007 book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and the 2011 film based on the book: "Hugo" add something


2011

Nonetheless, just over 200 Méliès films have been preserved and are available on DVD as of December 2011 add something


2015

Méliès was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2015 add something


2018

On May 3, 2018, Google honoured Méliès with its first ever virtual reality doodle, which contains themes of his many films add something