The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started awarding the "Oscar" award for special visual effects since 1938, unfortunately this award may have been delayed for decades, and the special visual effects wizard, one of its pioneers, was George Meles, who died months before the distribution ceremony. The prizes for that year, which marks the 83rd anniversary of his death today.
From storing reality to creating imagination
When, in 1896, the brothers August and Louis Lumiere showed their short documentary The Moment of a Train Entry into the "La Ciota" station, the train whistle did not ring in the exhibition hall;
Rather, they were gentle, quiet tunes emerging from a piano box placed near the audience, yet spectators rushed away from the screen, fearing that the oncoming iron monster would run over them quickly.
So was the magic of the white screen animation;
A trick whose secrets the audience did not know caught their eyes, and then raised their panic before the filmmakers reassured them of touching the screen.
The Lumiere brothers' work was nothing but documentation of a regular event, and a presentation of the moving image, as they worked on filming and storing live footage of ordinary daily scenes, such as;
Workers leaving a factory, a train arriving at a station, or a gardener mowing weeds;
But another magician who went beyond the boundaries of realistic documentation to create a magical cinema based on the fictional imagination, is the French George Meles, the filmmaker from 1896 to 1913.
Director by day .. deceptive at night
At the end of the nineteenth century, the industrial revolution was at its height, new equipment was invented day after day, gears were formed, machines were installed and moved, arts faltered and abandoned by their audience, while new arts came to light.
The magic tricks of these faltering arts were on their way to extinction, as the games of jugglers and repeated and usual optical illusions did not succeed in attracting the attention of the European audience to the magic shows in the French theaters, at that time George Meles was a young man in his mid-twenties, who ran with his brothers a shoe factory during the day, And he learns the tricks of theatrical magic the rest of the hours of the day, until he mastered them and showed some of his tricks to the public.
Until he came in 1888, at the age of 27, he took a new risk in search of his passion.
He spent his share of his father's inheritance buying and equipping a stage for magic tricks, and he began to develop his tricks and games until it reached 30 new tricks within 9 years, in addition to that he was drawing political caricatures for a recent French newspaper.
Mehlis Glass Studio (social media)
Theatrical experience of filmmaking
With the beginnings of the cinema era, the rules of cinematic art had not yet been set, and also artistic disciplines had not appeared, who could do something was doing, which is what George Meles fought when he became 35 years old, he had management experiences, storytellers skills, optical illusions and a talent for drawing And the artistic formation, which was the guarantor to start his successful project in the film industry, after he sold his theater and established a studio for filming, and instead of realistic documentation, he combined his love for theater and his passion for visual tricks to produce fictional films that depend in their basic form on the settings and equipment of theaters.
His experience was a play free from the constraints of the audience seated under the stage, and instead of hundreds of eyes on the audience, one eye was recording the scene, the lens of the cinema camera.
An entire team of one man
In a studio in the suburbs (eastern Paris), Meles used to install elements of a movie scene, which he stored on film tapes, using the light of day penetrating through the glass walls of the studio to illuminate his scenes.
With the help of some friends and technicians while he is doing most of the tasks, starting with writing the story or processing it for the new cinematic medium, dividing it into specific scenes that can be filmed, determining the movement of the actors, drawing the scene paintings on paper before implementing them in the design of the scene, making auxiliary tools within the scene, and instructing the actors. To the nature of their movements, cutting and pasting the film tape to prepare the final tape of the film, it was a whole one-man team.
He writes, draws and creates models for designs and makes montages with his own hands. It is not strange, of course, that he produces a movie with the same idea and name about "a one-man band" of his starring, directing and writing.
Scene from a one-man band (social networking sites)
Filmmakers can now make a movie in space or a chase scene inside a city upside down, and a journey between dimensions. All imaginative visualizations and scenes can be created through CGI techniques. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a futuristic visual experience. When it was offered in 1968 at a production cost of more than 10 million dollars;
But what was it like in 1896?
When George Mehlis produced the movie "The Haunted Palace", and in less than 4 minutes he showed a scene of a bird that turns into a magician, then he invokes a huge bowl of emptiness and continues to cast spells;
For things to appear out of the blue.
The cinema was silent;
But the cinematic picture is magical, and with a fertile imagination that circumvents the available technologies at the time.
You can notice the theatrical character in the movie "The Haunted Palace", as it looks like a one-act play with one fixed background, in front of which the actors move in a theatrical performance;
But Mehlis's potential did not stop there, as his unprecedented films and experiences came over 17 years, and in 1902 he produced the science fiction film "Journey to the Moon" that was inspired by the worlds of "Jules Verne".
And instead of one scene, there are 6 scenes, and instead of magic tricks it has become a larger production, which includes a council of scientists and a celebration of the launch of a capsule into space, and the iconic scene that shows a moon in the form of a human face that penetrates the space capsule into its eye, and the return of the scientific mission back to Earth.
Two years later, he was also inspired by Jules Verne's film "The Impossible Journey";
But this time towards the sun.
All these details appeared before the public nearly 120 years ago, at which time Mehlis, his team, and his fans did not know what they would accept in the next decade, as the world war broke out and the world collapsed with it as they knew it, with its limits, agreements, the balance of its great powers and of course its economy, and with him Meles’s cinematic industry and his passion collapsed. ;
To transform from an unprecedented pioneer in the cinema industry to a forgotten seller of sweets and toys for children, before rediscovering and discovering his cinematic production and obtaining the Medal of "Legion of Honor", the highest French accolade for creators.
He was celebrated as a pioneer of cinema, as Louis Lumiere considered him the undisputed "creator of the cinematic scene".
His name continues to be applauded and appreciated by international filmmakers, most notably in Martin Scorsese's Hugo, which provided a non-biography of the pioneering film magician and celebrated a restored version of his iconic film A Trip to the Moon.