Méliès encore!

Undoubtedly one of most significant DVD releases in recent years in the early and silent cinema field was Flicker Alley’s Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913). Issued in 2008, this 5-DVD set features 173 titles made by the premier filmmaking genius of the early cinema period. It brought together material from collections around the world in as near comprehensive a form as possible, turning what had previously would have taken half a lifetime for just a handful of dedicated researchers to see into something available to all. The set contained revelations for everyone, whether early cinema expert or those stumbling upon these visionary films of magic for the first. The Bioscope produced a review with full listing of all of the titles, including Star-Film catalogue number (the name of Méliès’ film company), the original French title and English title on the discs.

The set was extensive, but it was not complete. More Méliès films were known to be out there, and now Flicker Alley has just announced Georges Méliès Encore, a single disc follow-up which adds a further 26 titles produced by the Frenchman between 1896-1911, plus two titles by his Spanish contemporary Segundo de Chomón done in the Méliès style which have long been is taken for his work. That latter offering sounds a bit odd (let’s instead see a comprehensive DVD dedicated to the supremely artistic work of de Chomón alone one day, please), but the chance to take things that much closer to the complete extant archive is a cause for rejoicing.

The production description available on Amazon.com gives these English titles:

The Haunted Castle from 1896 relies on shot-substitution, the filmmaker’s first trick discovery; it is a work in 21 shots at a time when everyone else in the world was making only single-shot films! An Hallucinated Alchemist is a beautifully-colored trick film from 1897, which survives in perfect condition. Among other surprises, the set includes military re-enactments (The Last Cartridges, Sea Fighting in Greece), dream films (The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship, Under the Seas), dramatic narratives (The Wandering Jew and The Christmas Angel, both with original narrations), slapstick comedies (How Bridget’s Lover Escaped, The King and the Jester, The Cook’s Secret), and, of course, a substantial group of the lovely trick films on which rest Méliès modern reputation.

Flicker Alley has now (updated information, 27 January) provided a full title listing on its website, from which the Bioscope has produced this listing (which corrects some slips):

15 – Défense d’afficher / Post no Bills
78-80 – Le manoir du diable / The Haunted Castle

95 – L’hallucination de l’alchimiste / An Hallucinated Alchemist [Note: this is a misidentification – see comments]
100 – Sur les Toits / On the Roofs
105 – Les Dernières cartouches [Flicker Alley call this Bombardement d’une maison] / The Last Cartridges
110 – Combat naval en Grèce / Sea Fighting in Greece

359 – L’omnibus des toqués ou Blancs et Noirs / Off to Bloomingdale Asylum

392-393 – l’oeuf du sorcier / The Prolific Egg
397 – Éruption volcanique à la Martinique / Eruption of Mount Pele
430-443 – Les aventures de Robinson Crusoé (fragment) / Robinson Crusoe

472 – La flamme merveilleuse / Mystical Flame, The
545 – Un peu de feu s.v.p. (fragment) / Every Man His Own Cigar Lighter

662-664 – Le juif errant / The Wandering Jew
669-677 – Détresse et charité / The Christmas Angel

550-551 – Les apparitions fugitives / Fugitive Apparitions
662-664 – Le juif errant / Wandering Jew, The
669-677 – Détresse et charité / Christmas Angel, The
693-695 – Le baquet de Mesmer / A Mesmerian Experiment
750-752 – L’île de Calypso / The Mysterious Island
786-788 – Le dirigeable fantastique ou le cauchemar d’un inventeur / The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship

888-905 – Robert Macaire et Bertrand, les rois des cambrioleurs / Robert Macaire and Bertrand

912-924 – Deux cent milles sous les mers ou le cauchemar du pêcheur / Under the seas
929-933 – Le mariage de Victorine / How Bridget’s Lover Escaped
1010-1013 – Satan en prison /
1040-1043 – François 1er et Triboulet / The King and the Jester

1476-1485 – Hydrothérapie fantastique / The Doctor’s Secret
1530-1533 – Le papillon fantastique (fragment) / The spider and the butterfly

The three Pathé titles are
Le vitrail diabolique / The Diabolical Church Window (1911)
Les roses magiques / Magic Roses (1906)
Excursion dans la lune / Excursion to the Moon (1908)

So, where (and what is) The Cook’s Secret?

Georges Méliès Encore is released on 16 February 2010, price $19.95.

11 responses

  1. Pingback: Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) « The Bioscope

  2. Excellent news.

    Be interesting to see if the Cinémathèque Française or the Cinémathèque Méliès have supplied any material for this disc. They were conspicuously not involved in the original Flicker Alley box.

    Unless another copy has turned up Le manoir du diable presumably derives from the print found in New Zealand which appears to be missing the end. Be interesting to see what, if any, restoration has been done to it as compared to the Studio Canal DVD set.

    Star Catalogue 96 – Le château hanté (1897) seems to be an alternate version of the middle reel of Le manoir du diable, shot on the same sets and thus presumably at the same time. (The coloured print of Le château hanté in the Flicker Alley box has been reversed left to right as compared to Le manoir du diable).

  3. Thanks for the useful detail on Le château hanté and Le manoir du diable – which we’re assuming is on the new disc, but don’t know as yet. We await more information from Flicker Alley. But it is terrific news, and mine’s on order already.

  4. Flicker Alley have now put up more details including a complete list of titles included and a couple of clips.

    By my calculation this will leave at least 15 still extant titles not on DVD :
    Star Catalogue titles
    *156. Pygmalion et Galathée, 20 m. 1898
    *171. Salle à manger fantastique, 20 m. 1899
    *175-176. Cléopâtre [Le Sacrilège, L’attentat. Résurrection de Cléopâtre] 40 m 1899
    *180. Luttes extravagantes, 20 m. 1899
    *205. Évocation spirite, 20 m. 1899
    *218. La Pyramide de Triboulet, 20 m 1899
    *237-240. Les Miracles du Brahmine, 80 m. 1900
    *284. L’Artiste et le Mannequin, 20 m. 1900
    *417-418. La Femme volante, 40 m. 1902
    *422-425. Une indigestion, 85 m. 1902
    *560-561. Benvenuto Cellini ou Curieuse Évasion, 55 m. 1904

    Non-Star Catalogue Titles
    – Un film dont il ne subsiste que quelques images montrant Méliès en clochard, manipulant un cigare. [date unknown]
    – L’Agent gelé, 175 m. 1908
    – Tribulation or the Misfortunes of a Cobbler. 1908
    – Publicité pour la Régie des tabacs. 1933

  5. Many thanks for this, especially for the list of extant titles not as yet available on DVD. I’ve amended the post to include the new information, though there are some tiny slips in the Flicker Alley listing (some wrong dates, a catalogue number mis-written, and all of the English titles have slipped down by one line.

  6. I wonder if ‘The Cook’s Secret’ is a misprint for ‘The Doctor’s Secret’ which is included ?

    The archives credited on the Flicker Alley page include the Cinémathèque Française but not the Cinémathèque Méliès (although I’m not clear how active that is) and the long list of individuals thanked doesn’t include any members of the Méliès family.

    On Segundo de Chomón theres a collection of no less than 71 films in avi format circulating in grey corners of the internet. Baffled as to the source (it may be from VHS). The films are presented silent and have title cards in Spanish with details of the archive sources.

  7. I’m sure The Doctor’s Secret and The Cook’s Secret are one – I was just so frustrated poring through the whole Méliès canon trying to come up with a title that remotely matched the latter.

    I’ve noted the De Chomóns in circulation, which something in the back of my mind tells me come from a Latin American source. Don’t know where I’ve dredged that up from, but they do seem to be from a video release evidence of which I’ve not been able to find.

  8. I’ve just got my copy – and what a wonderful production it is. Print quality is variable, but this disc alone serves as the ideal introduction to Méliès’s work – not in terms of well-known titles, but simply in the variety and invention on offer. LE MANOIR DU DIABLE is just astonishing, an incredible achievement for 1896. L’HALLUCINATION DE L’ALCHIMISTE (1897) is no less remarkable, and in pristine hand-colour. A great DVD, though oddly lacking any sort of booklet.

  9. Pingback: Looking back on 2010 « The Bioscope

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