George Melies was a French filmmaker who made many innovative breakthroughs particularly in the area of special effects.
The Lumiere Brothers captured the first ever film in 1895 (“Sortie des Usines Lumieres a Lyon”). Melies was inspired by the Lumiere Brothers and he shot his first film in 1896 entitled “L'auberge Ensorcelée”. In 1897 he established his own production company. Melies was the first filmmaker to use special effects, such as dissolves, multiple exposures, split screens and hand painting film negative. He was also the first filmmaker to have nudity in his work. Melie's films often had very little plot substance, and were more about the spectacle. He came from a theatre background where he worked with magicians and illusionists and this comes across in his films.

Melies most famous film is “La Voyage Dans La Lune” (Voyage to the Moon) It was made in 1902 and is thought to be the first ever science fiction film. In it we see a professor lead an expedition to the moon with six other men. They take off in a rocket which we see land in the eye of the moon. They arrive in a strange land that has giant mushrooms and peculiar inhabitants which they fight off with their umbrellas. The entire film is only 8minutes long. It's a world renowned film and has been referenced many times in popular culture. The Smashing Pumpkins recreated much of the film for their “Tonight, tonight” music video.

Melies made over five hundred films throughout his career. Despite being so successful, his theatre was demolished and he was declared bankrupt. A number of years later, he was recognised for his contribution to filmmaking and was presented with the Legion of Honor award which was awarded by Louis Lumiere.


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