père lachaise as text

Georges Méliès: Le voyage dans le cinéma

A Parisian born in 1861, Georges Méliès grew up with a strong creative desire, often filling his school notebooks with pictures of caricatures and puppets and eventually building puppets of his own. After helping out his family’s shoe business and serving for three years in the military, Méliès delved into stage magic and the power of illusion at the Egyptian Hall in London, an exhibition hall that often featured magic shows to the general public. He put on his own shows, but attendance was generally very low, yet Méliès became not only director of his shows, but also a producer, writer, and set designer. After having seen a production by the Lumiere brothers, Méliès wanted to purchase a cinematograph and begin his own film productions, but the Lumiere brothers did not want to sell any of their film equipment. Modifying a film projector into a film camera, Méliès also bought his own film and developed it through trial and error. Having directed 500 films in the span of 17 years, including a 13-minute long film on Joan of Arc, Méliès built his own film studio and incorporated his experience with magical illusions into his works. In 1902, Méliès created « Le voyage dans la lune », an adventure film that included innovative special effects, such as jump cuts, and launched Méliès to international success. After 1909, Méliès stopped making films and turned to selling sweets and toys at the Montparnasse station in Paris until passing away from cancer in 1938 at the age of 76.

Red velvet seats, one after the other, ready to be accepting of you for the next hour or so.

Midnight premieres, advanced screenings with their exclusivity, award shows where actors and actresses don Vuitton, Gucci, De la Renta dresses and suits and live tweeting captures every dramatic moment.

Science fiction conventions brimming with devotion and awe over the fantastical and the impossible.

The power of film has been a common tie across cultures and individuals and is my common tie to Georges Méliès. I’m probably the last person you’d want to see a film with, and it’s not because I talk during movies or crunch on my popcorn. It’s not because I spoil endings or fall asleep during a movie.

It’s because I can’t bear to watch films without complete peace around me, either getting annoyed at the tiniest child crying or at the crunching of a candy bag. I can’t even stand to watch movies on opening nights because of the amount of noise being created by the amount of people in the theater. I’m unbearable to the common moviegoer, just ask any of my friends, and while I initially thought it as just an annoying quirk, I now see it as a demonstration of my respect for film and the power it has had in my own life.

For Méliès, fantasy had always been a comforting force in his life, and gradually became his entire motivation to create works of art. Ever since I could remember, I always watched classic movies as a result of my Abuelo’s influence as a babysitter, making me watch grainy versions of Singing in the Rain and The King and I. Film has always been the buzz in the background of my own life, and when my Abuelo passed this past January, it felt very weird to not have that figure in my life who shared this obsession with the film world. I miss the hum of the Turner Classic Movie channel in my home as I sit at night doing work in my room and watching the Oscars with snarky old man commentary.

Film is a ritual in my eyes. Whenever a new film comes out that I want to see, I make sure to wait a bit before I watch it, and I try to go to the movies on discount days, and most of all, empty theater days. Being consumed by moving art in the dark stuns me to this day, and every time I leave a theater, I’m at peace with the ways in which art can put things into perspective.

Méliès kept moving along in his film career even when others were denying him easy access. He made sure he tried it out for himself, and not just the role of filmmaker, but also producer and set designer. In full command, Méliès became his own company, and I have found ways in which to do the same. I used to think I couldn’t be multi-purposed in terms of my own career or abilities, but as I double major in English Literature and Women’s and Gender Studies, minor in French Language, seek a Film Studies certificate, curate my own writing blog, and make my own collages and short film diaries, I’ve realized how unlimited I really am. I don’t have to choose one thing I want to be or do. I can choose to have many choices at my disposal and when looking at the filmography and career scope of Méliès, I’m comforted to know I don’t have to be or create one thing. I can take the form of many things, whether it be a personified moon with a rocket ship jutting out of its eye, or a weathered old man serving candy to the young children and travelers of Paris.

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© Nicole Hernandez

Works Cited

“His Life: Georges Méliès.” Georges Mlis Official Website, www.melies.eu/English.html.

“Who Was France’s Magician of Early Cinema Who Sent a Rocket to the Moon?” Google Search, Google, www.google.com/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/georges-melies-filmmaker-silent-cinema-moon-rocket-paris-vr-google-doodle-a8333896.html?amp.

p.s.

photo credit belongs to me

 

 

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