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.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.