Fantastic realism
in Georges Méliès
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Georges Méliès's stage illusions had caused spectators to question their own grasp of reality: what they saw before them appeared to be real, yet it was clearly not so. This chapter considers Méliès's treatment of the relationship between fantasy and realism, first by examining a selection of films that explicitly thematize representation, and then by discussing several of the actualites reconstitutees, or filmic reconstructions of actual events. It examines the ways in which Méliès's films blur the boundary between realism and illusion, by examining first a selection of trick films. This is followed by several actualités reconstituées or early docu-dramas, culminating in an extended discussion of Méliès's most influential actualité, L'Affaire Dreyfus/The Dreyfus Affair, which heralded film's accession to the historical role once performed exclusively by writing. The chapter also examines the extant actualites reconstituees in chronological order, with the exception of L'Affaire Dreyfus.

Georges Méliès

The birth of the auteur

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