George Méliès

As part of the ‘Visual & Performing Arts Module’ we have decided to look into the works of George Méliès.

Georges Méliès was a french illusionist and film maker. 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 ground-breaking special effects and lead the way for future films.

And in colour.

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.


“He was one of the first people to use special effects in films. He made a film about going to the moon. I like the way that he was able to change things from one thing to another just by stopping the film, changing the object, and starting to film again. We are going to try and recreate some of his special effects ourselves.” – Louise Donnelly

“We are working on making up our own movie. In our own movies we are going to try and use some special effects. I liked the way that George’s films turned out. I enjoy going inside his world.” – Suzanne Hyland

“It was very good the was he made the rocket go up and down to the moon. His films are very inspirational. They gave us ideas for how to make our own movies.” – Stephen Deegan

“I thought that he had a great way of doing things. The way that he moved things around without the use of computers in his films was amazing. He gave me an insight into how we could make our own movies by building sets and using trickery.” – Yvonne Halstead

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 our 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’.

Watch this space for more on George and our own Méliès inspired movies.

© 2012 HSE/EVE

About HSE EVE Estuary

HSE EVE Estuary Centre is part of Eastern Vocational Enterprise (EVE) and is a training centre for individuals with intellectual disabilities based in Lissenhall, Swords, HSE Dublin North East. We provide a quality service to sixty four individuals.

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