Méliès does tricks
in Georges Méliès
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Although the perception of Georges Méliès as essentially a man of the theatre who happened to point a camera at the stage has long held sway, this chapter intends to provide a more complex assessment of Méliès's film techniques. The chapter examines individual scenes of some of his films using a model of structural analysis designed for narrative films. The aim of this exercise is two-fold: first, it reveals the narrative complexity of Méliès's films; and, in so doing, it demonstrates that early cinema need not be excluded from analysis using the tools of modern film theory. The chapter outlines the technical function of the major special effects, or trues, used by Méliès. It then progresses to a structural analysis of the narrative components of Méliès's films, by adapting Christian Metz's model known as la grande syntagmatique to a spatial model of mise en scène.

Georges Méliès

The birth of the auteur

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