Bright Lights Film Journal

Méliès Magnifique

The general line on Georges Méliès (1861-1938) is that his films were rooted in the theatrical. He had been a stage magician before he was a filmmaker, so many commentators have viewed his films as mere extensions of his magic act. The Infernal Cauldron made in 1903 (above) helps to dispel this notion. With its lovely color tints carefully applied frame by frame, it owes as much to painting and illustration as it does to stage performance. It not only entertains (like a theater piece) and evokes the viewer’s sense of wonder (like a magic act); it evokes the aesthetic pleasures of the most beautiful illustrations one might stumble across in a 19th-century children’s book.

[Tip o’ the chapeau to Ross Freedman.]