There is such a great variety of public domain material to choose from it is often quite difficult to pick which piece to do next.
Most of the regular blog readers are probably already aware of the GenXMedia non-profit channel on YouTube.
For those of you who aren't aware or haven't had a chance to see what our official mascot channel GenXMedia Cinema Vintage has to offer, I highly suggest you take a wee peek at the excellent material.
There is a vast, interesting collection and mixture of public domain and creative commons materials such as full-length films, videos offering documentaries, short films, music, art, clips, trailers and newsreels. Silent films, classic black and white, in general the work of the people who helped create the world of imagery on screen that we have become accustomed to.
By the way thank you to all the team members who work extremely long and hard to maintain and provide these public domain images for all of us to enjoy.
One of those molders of the screen world is Georges Méliès, a man Gen talks about quite often and indeed she donated her collection of his works, the Segundo de Chomón collection and many other pieces to the public domain, so everyone can enjoy them.
Georges Méliès (1861-1936) was a French illusionist and filmmaker. He accidentally discovered a special effect in film-making, the so-called stop trick, also referred to as the Jeannie Cut or locking off. An object is filmed, then the camera is turned off so it can be removed and the filming resumes, so it seems as if the object has simply disappeared.
Méliès was also one of the first people to hand-paint his work, use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography and dissolves. His work had an air of magic like quality, because of the many special effects.
He was known among his contemporaries as the Cinemagician. If you watch the film I have included below you will see exactly what they mean by that.
What appeals to me the most is the way Méliès has fun with his productions. They are like a tongue in cheek episode of tomfoolery created with an eye to detail, a great sense of humour and an almost blasé acknowledgement of his own skill.
In Le Monstre (1903), an Egyptian prince has lost his princess to an untimely death. He requests the help of a dervish in an attempt to look upon the exquisite features of his fairest love once more. We see the dervish schlepping this coffin like apparatus into the scene, from which he retrieves a skeleton.
The dervish prays to the moon and the Gods to make the skeleton awaken. The skeleton is a bit cheeky and seems to defy or disagree with the dervish. The dervish clothes the skeleton in virginal white beautiful garbs to summon the female spirit of the princess. Then he commands the skeleton, which is encased in white sheets, to copy his movements, much like a puppeteer controlling his puppet.
The ensuing dancing scene is nothing less than hilarious, kudos to the bouncy actor. The real skill however are the special effects portrayed during the ghostly dance scenes. The skeleton appears to merge into the ground and then reappear, it then stretches its neck like a giraffe in a quite inhuman like manner. Fascinating stuff when you think about the fact this was all created in 1903.
The dervish covers the lively skeleton with another sheet, opens it up and out pops said princess. The prince wants to hold her and yet the recently dead doesn't seem as keen on reuniting with her prince and she disappears once more under the sheet. Obviously this isn't the outcome the prince was hoping for and he chases the dervish, who has legged it like a bat out of hell.
Unfortunately many of Méliès films no longer exist, a large amount was completely destroyed by the French Army during WW1 and all the negatives by Méliès himself in 1923, despite that over 200 of his films have been restored and preserved for future entertainment and study.
For free downloads of the above mentioned film and other work by Georges Méliès:
Download to watch Le Monstre by Georges Méliès at the Internet Archive.
Download to watch The Georges Méliès Collection at the Internet Archive.
Download to watch Le Voyage Dans la Lun by Georges Méliès at the Internet Archive.
To view The Georges Méliès Collection and more visit GenXMedia.