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George Melies' Illusions

Posted: April 30th, 2019, 5:00 pm
by jimb_85
I've heard that the pioneering French filmmaker George Melies was also an accomplished magician and created a number of impressive illusions, including one where a person is decapitated and their head continues to speak as their body moves around the room. But I've been unable to find any books or sites outlining how these effects were accomplished. Does anyone know if there's reference material outlining how they were carried out (in English, preferably)

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: April 30th, 2019, 9:59 pm
by Jonathan Townsend

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 2nd, 2019, 4:45 pm
by jimb_85
That's impressive, but it's film effects. I was wondering if anyone could link to resources showing how he did his stunts on stage, without camera tricks.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 2:38 am
by Tom Moore
Whilst i can't say for certain it is clear from the techniques he created for Film FX that he had a very strong working knowledge of black art.

His mentors were all also experienced at BA though also all had very strong engineering/mechanical backgrounds - Maskelyne, deKolta, Robert-Houdin and he retained many of Houdin's technical staff so if i was taking an educated guess i would think the live stage illusions he created would have been a mixture of black art & hugely complicated off-stage machines literally built in to the theatre.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 8:37 am
by Jonathan Townsend
Great topic for some research - the guy owned the Robert-Houdin theater and was also the president of the local magicians social group so there is likely local literature to be found from the time. My French is not so good as to go reading there. Anyone from France care to have a look for show reviews in that theater from about 1888?

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 10:23 am
by Jonathan Townsend
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/ ... efox-b-1-d

https://www.google.com/search?q=Robert- ... uzGg6eWNLM:

His advertising is around - maybe there's something in the literature of that time (and Area)

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 12:31 pm
by Joe Lyons
Jonathan Townsend wrote:Great topic for some research

I agree.
I couldn't order a sandwich with my high school French now.
The book "Marvellous Melies" (in English) by Paul Hammond would be a great starting point. It references Melies use of black art, the Pepper's Ghost technique and magic lanterns among others. The four appendices in the back may help.

I remember a recent crowd funding effort by Melies family for his grave. You might reach out to them as well.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 7:27 pm
by jimb_85
Jonathan Townsend wrote:https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:msmNgb4H0nQJ:https://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/4435-7860+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-b-1-d

https://www.google.com/search?q=Robert- ... uzGg6eWNLM:

His advertising is around - maybe there's something in the literature of that time (and Area)


Many thanks, Jonathan.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 7:28 pm
by jimb_85
Joe Lyons wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:Great topic for some research

I agree.
I couldn't order a sandwich with my high school French now.
The book "Marvellous Melies" (in English) by Paul Hammond would be a great starting point. It references Melies use of black art, the Pepper's Ghost technique and magic lanterns among others. The four appendices in the back may help.

I remember a recent crowd funding effort by Melies family for his grave. You might reach out to them as well.


I'll check that out, then. Thanks Joe.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 7:45 pm
by Richard Kaufman
jimb_85 wrote:I've heard that the pioneering French filmmaker George Melies was also an accomplished magician and created a number of impressive illusions, including one where a person is decapitated and their head continues to speak as their body moves around the room. But I've been unable to find any books or sites outlining how these effects were accomplished. Does anyone know if there's reference material outlining how they were carried out (in English, preferably)


The effect you describe with the head is most certainly from one of his films. I can remember it, and many other things like it, quite clearly.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 8:18 pm
by Joe Lyons
Richard Kaufman wrote:
jimb_85 wrote:I've heard that the pioneering French filmmaker George Melies was also an accomplished magician and created a number of impressive illusions, including one where a person is decapitated and their head continues to speak as their body moves around the room. But I've been unable to find any books or sites outlining how these effects were accomplished. Does anyone know if there's reference material outlining how they were carried out (in English, preferably)


The effect you describe with the head is most certainly from one of his films. I can remember it, and many other things like it, quite clearly.

No, that one is American Spiritualistic Mediums, or the Recalcitrant Decapitated Man - on the stage.

The one you saw Richard was probably The Man With the Rubber Head - a short film.

It's all in the book.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 9:53 pm
by Bill Mullins
Image

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 10:19 pm
by Joe Lyons
Image

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 6th, 2019, 11:24 pm
by Richard Kaufman
The magician Harmington named in the poster is the man believed to have invented the back palm, having first performed it at the Theatre Robert-Houdin. See Magic Without Apparatus by Gaultier.

Bill Mullins wrote:Image

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: May 14th, 2019, 4:22 pm
by jimb_85
Joe Lyons wrote:No, that one is American Spiritualistic Mediums, or the Recalcitrant Decapitated Man - on the stage.

The one you saw Richard was probably The Man With the Rubber Head - a short film.

It's all in the book.


That's what it's called. Thanks.

I'm guessing the affect was achieved on stage with black art effects.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: June 15th, 2019, 1:42 pm
by Richard Stokes
Melies appears in the new Netflix film of Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: October 7th, 2019, 1:39 pm
by webbmaster
As far as good 'black art' goes, and to see what is possible with it, you'll enjoy googling (youtube) Omar Pasha.

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: October 13th, 2019, 9:02 pm
by Paco Nagata
Richard Kaufman wrote:The magician Harmington named in the poster is the man believed to have invented the back palm, having first performed it at the Theatre Robert-Houdin. See Magic Without Apparatus by Gaultier.

This piece of information is GOLD for me!
Since forever I wanted to know the origin of the "Back Palm" sleight, but I could not find anything clear or conclusive even all through Internet.
Thank you, Mr Kaufman, for pointed it out!

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: October 14th, 2019, 2:59 am
by Philippe Billot

Re: George Melies' Illusions

Posted: October 14th, 2019, 11:54 am
by Paco Nagata
Philippe Billot wrote:I posed some questions about the "Back Palm.

It's here : viewtopic.php?f=1&t=49295&p=332224&hilit=There+are+some+curious+facts+in+this+story#p332224

Ups!
No matter how much I check out the Forum there are always things that have not check out yet. It's a great thing to be here tons of very interesting information...
I will read this thread with enthusiasm Philippe, thank you!