George Méliès

Recently I have taken a great interest in the works of George Méliès. I love the style of his sets and his forward thinking in terms of special effects and use of technology. I am also using him as the starting point for film studies in the ‘Visual & Performing Arts Module’ which I teach in EVE Estuary.

We have found him to be a great source of information and inspiration.

Georges Méliès was a French illusionist and filmmaker. He worked from the 1890′s through the 1920′s. He was famous for his use of special effects and narrative imagination.


His film entitled ‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’ (1902) A Trip to the Moon is considered to be the first science fiction film. It displayed groundbreaking special effects and led the way for future films.

In this film his direction also allows the audience to feel part of the action. The women who insert the shuttle into the rocket then turn and wave at the camera, giving a sense of an active audience, thus making the film more engaging, appealing and allows for greater connections to be made with the characters involved.

He accidentally discovered the substitution ‘stop trick’ in 1896. ‘Stop trick’ occurs when an object is filmed, then while the camera is off, the object is moved out of sight of the camera; then the camera is turned back on. When the film is watched, it seems to the viewer that the object disappears.

An example of where he uses this effect can be seen in his film entitled: ‘Le Locataire Diabolique’ (1909) – The Devilish Tenant

He was also one of the first filmmakers to use, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted colour in his work.

L’Homme orchestre (1900) – The One-Man Band

Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first “Cinemagician”.

Méliès began his path into film through the theatre wherein he developed skills in set design, which involved use of lighting, levers, trapdoors and several automata.


Another one of his films entitled: ‘L’Eclipse du Soleil en pleine Lune (1907) – The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and Moon’ brings us onto our next area of interest.

In ‘The Wandering Stars’ section of this film we see girls on shooting stars flying across the sky, people on planets and a lady sitting on the crescent moon. See the next post: entitled ‘Paper Moons’ to find out more.


The ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ used this film as the music video for their song called ‘No Surrender’.

Melies moon

For me I find his work to be about broadening horizons, positively anticipating the future and striving for new techniques and ideas.

I created my own ‘man in the moon’ by painting up an old table top and putting rope-light around it. IMG_1828


© This photo was taken by Rachel Kiernan and is not to be used without permission.

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