It’s absolutely impossible to forget about Gorges Meliés. He is simply the inventor of science-fiction cinema and a large number of basic special effects.
He was a famous magician, and witnessed the first performance of Lumière brothers on December 27, 1895, and immediately understood the new technique’s possibilities. So he managed to buy a camera from Robert W. Paul in London and soon built a camera of his own.
At first he filmed real life scenes, like the Lumières did, but then a simple incident changed his mind. One day, while he was filming in Paris, the camera jammed. It took a minute to have it working again, but when he started shooting again all the people and vehicles had obviously moved. So in the developed film an omnibus had become an hearse. The scene was the same and the illusion was perfect. And special effects had born, because Meliés had understood the magic of cinema: it was now possible to show things otherwise impossible to be seen in real life.
Meliès created the world’s first special effects facility, in the Robert-Houdin Theatre.

For 10 years he was the most famous film-maker in the world, but when other directors came out with more fast-paced edited movies and more innovative stories, his work became outdated.
The work of Meliès seems childish today, because no one can take seriously a rocket in the Moon’s eye or paper-made backgrounds, but that was only the beginning: improvements would have come soon, and anyway most of his techniques have been used during all the 20th century.


1896: Seànce de prestidigitation

1896: Mystere indien
1897: Le cabinet de Mèphistophéles
1902: Voyage dans la Lune
1904: Voyage à travers l’impossible
1907: Vingt mille lieues sous les meres
1907: Le tunnel sous la Manche
1912: A la conquète du pòle