Georges Méliès, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Georges Méliès, The Mysterious Portrait
Georges Méliès, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907) Georges Méliès, Conquest of the Pole (1912) Georges Méliès, The Mysterious Portrait (1899)
Substitution splicing, multiple exposures, dissolves, matte shots, replication effects, models, moving backgrounds, féerie effects, and transparencies—bind Méliès's film universe together. In L'homme Orchestre (1900), he replicates himself not as one but as many.

The French army melted down numerous Méliès negatives during World War One to use as feeder stock for military boot heels, and Méliès himself destroyed others in 1923. 379 of the 552 movies Méliès created are lost, and those not lost often descend from release prints or pirated films. But “lost” Méliès movies appear from time to time:  Cleopatra (1899) resurfaced in 2005.
Imagine this: In the back of a breakfront in the Chateau d ’Orly near Paris, where Méliès died in a retirement home among faded stars of the French film industry, you have just discovered a canister the size of a hockey puck. A phrase is written in ink on the canister: 1897: Le Coeur d’un Homme (The Heart of a Man). Opening it, you discover exposed but unedited lengths of 35 mm film showing a man in cutaways. You hold the shots to your eye and discern what Méliès must have intended to have happen: a man is releasing a menagerie of flying beasts from a canister that could not possibly contain them.

Read it. Learn it. Do it.

You Did It Then: Finish what Georges Méliès started. From this footage—at long last—make the “lost” Méliès movie, Le Coeur d’un Homme. Step-by-step instructions and shots you can use to channel your inner Georges Méliès are in the button below.


You Do It Now: Return to the burst mode images you created the first exercise. Do something different with them. Unleash your imagination. Do you see The Heart of a Man? Maybe the Boulevard des Capucines? The Blue Bird (1918)? Zoom in? Animate them? Turn them into pictures within pictures? Double or triple expose them? Try absolutely anything.