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Le Grand Méliès

A Short film by Georges Franju

Produced by Armor Films

Production year : 1952

    Synopsis

    A brief review of the life and works of Melies (pioneer of the cinema) containing extracts from his films. Includes reconstructed scenes from his life in which he is played by his son André. Shows his widow, aged 90, taking flowers for his grave.

    Source : bfi.org.uk

     

    Actor

    Participant

    Production and distribution

    Executive Producer :

    Armor Films

    Subject

    Point of view

    Set to a waltz composed by Méliès, Georges Franju’s film about Georges Méliès is charming, nostalgic, imbued with a sense of the fleeting nature of life.
         Drawn from documents at La Cinémathèque française and from Méliès’s ninety-year-old widow’s cherished memories, Le Grand Méliès is a silent film with voiceover written by Franju and recited by Marie-Georges Méliès.
         This delicate, poignant film covers the career of Méliès from toystore and stage magician to pioneer filmmaker—the one to whom, D.W. Griffith said, he “owed everything.” Méliès is played by his son, André.
         Through a curtain the shadowy form of one of the Lumière brothers tells a shadowy Méliès that motion pictures are a “scientific curiosity” without commercial potential. Lumière is right—not about the movies, but about Méliès. Prolific, Méliès made films that revel in theatrical artifice, moving sets, trick photography, magic. But the career of this incredibly influential artist was “squeezed out” by competitors who imitated him, and by the end of the First World War his career was finished. In despair, Méliès destroyed most of his “celluloid children.” He died in 1938. At one level, then, Le Grand Méliès is Franju’s lament over the ruthless nature of the movie business and its inhospitability to humanity and art.
         It is the film’s sheer humanity and poetry, however, that take precedence. Madame Méliès visits the site of the toy shop where her husband first entertained. It is now a flower shop (out of Chaplin’s City Lights). From a young woman Marie-Georges buys flowers for her husband’s grave. (He hated cemeteries but loved flowers, we’re told.) The film ends, as the waltz plays, as Madame Méliès, the camera to her back, walks to Georges’s grave—the grave of two Georgeses, we cannot help but think now.

    Source : grunes.wordpress.com

    Full credits (8)

    Assistant directors :

    Michel Worms, Roland Coste

    Sound Recordist :

    Pierre Vuillemin

    Editor :

    Roland Coste

    Music Composer :

    Georges Van Parys

    Director of Photography :

    Jacques Mercanton

    Assistant Operator :

    Max Lechevallier

    Production Designer :

    Henri Schmitt

    Participant :

    Jeanne d'Alcy

    Technical details

    Short film

    Genres :

    Documentary

    Themes :

    Cinema

    Production language :

    French

    Production country :

    France

    Original French-language productions :

    Unknown

    Nationality :

    100% French (France)

    Production year :

    1952

    Runtime :

    32 min

    Color type :

    Black & White

    Audio format :

    Mono