Saturday, September 6, 2008

DVD: Georges Méliès First Wizard of Cinema -- September 6, 2008

I finished watching Flicker Alley's ( 5-dvd set Georges Méliès First Wizard of Cinema. This is a remarkable collection of more than 170 movies, ranging from "Une Partie de cartes", Star Film catalog #1 from 1896 to his last, "Le Voyage de la famille Bourrichon" from 1913. The shortest complete film, "La Vengeance du gâte-sauce" from 1900 is 33 seconds. The longest is "A la conquête du pôle" from 1912, which is 30 minutes and 22 seconds.
I had worried that watching so many Méliès movies in a relatively short time would give me indigestion, but I never felt sated. I enjoyed observing patterns over time, like the cakewalk step that turned up in 1903's "Le Cake-walk infernal" and many other movies in the same period.
I saw many examples of Méliès' performing abilities. I was sad on disk four when I realized that I had not seen him appear for a while. It was nice on the last disk when I saw him in "Les Illusions fantaisistes", which looked back to his earliest trick films. This was followed two films later by "A la conquête du pôle", where he has the leading role, and even something close to a closeup. I first read about this film in a library book when I was in grammar school. I had seen the schene with the monster before, but never the whole movie.
The picture quality varied greatly, but is understandable because many movies only survive in one print. The musical scores varied but most were appropriate. The one for "Le Tonnerre de Jupiter" was very funny.
The menu for "A la conquête du pôle" offerred a choice of German or translated English, but both options give the German. I was happy to see that the Flicker Alley site offers the translations.
Michael Brooke has embarked on a brave project to write a blog entry about each movie on the dvd. As I write this, he is taking a breather; I look forward to more entries:

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