Thursday, September 29, 2016

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0027 - HOMME A LA TETE EN CAOUTCHOUC, L' (Georges Méliès, 1901, France, 3m, BW)



The Man with the Rubber Head

(Georges Méliès, 1901, France, 3m, BW)

The Man with the Rubber Head

L'homme à la tête de caoutchouc

Directed by Georges Méliès
Written by Georges Méliès
Release dates 1901
Running time 3 minutes
Country France
Language Silent

Also Known As (AKA)
L'Homme à la tête de Caoutchouc France (original title)
A gumifejű ember Hungary
El hombre con la cabeza de goma International (Spanish title)
The India Rubber Head International (English title)
The Man with the India-Rubber Head UK (literal English title)


L'homme à la tête de caoutchouc (The Man With The Rubber Head) is a 1901 silent French fantasy film directed by Georges Méliès. It was filmed in 1901 and released later that year. It was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 382–383 in its catalogues, where it was advertised as a grande nouveauté.


A chemist in his laboratory places upon a table his own head, alive; then fixing upon his head a rubber tube with a pair of bellows, he begins to blow with all his might. Immediately the head increases in size and continues to enlarge until it becomes truly colossal while making faces. The chemist, fearing to burst it, opens a cock in the tube. The head immediately contracts and resumes its original size. He then calls his assistant and informs him of his discovery. The assistant, wishing to experiment for himself, seizes the bellows and blows into the head with all his might. The head swells until it bursts with a crash, knocking over the two experimenters. The chemist then literally kicks his assistant from the lab in anger.


To create the illusion of an expanding head, Melies "zoomed" in on his own head with a camera and superimposed this onto the film. He received the idea from Albert A. Hopkins' 'Magic - Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions'. The Man With The Rubber Head, or L’Homme à la tête de Caoutchouc, is a French silent film from 1902 directed by Georges Méliès. It features a scientist (played by Méliès himself) who places a living copy of his own head on a table, attaches a pair of bellows to it, and begins to blow air into the head, making it swell like a balloon. The film is a classic example of Méliès mastery of early special effects. To create the illusion of a head which grows in size, he filmed himself moving toward a stationary camera and then superimposed this upon a static shot of the laboratory where the head ballooning experiment takes place.

Georges Méliès

Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, known as Georges Méliès (8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938), was a French illusionist and film director famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès was an especially prolific innovator in the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splices, multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color. He was also the first filmmaker to use storyboards. His films include A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904), both involving strange, surreal journeys somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy.

Georges Méliès was an early French experimenter with motion pictures, the first to film fictional narratives. When the first genuine movies, made by the Lumière brothers, were shown in Paris in 1895, Méliès, a professional magician and manager-director of the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, was among the spectators. The films were scenes from real life having the novelty of motion, but Méliès saw at once their further possibilities. He acquired a camera, built a glass-enclosed studio near Paris, wrote scripts, designed ingenious sets, and used actors to film stories. With a magician's intuition, he discovered and exploited the basic camera tricks: stop motion, slow motion, dissolve, fade-out, superimposition, and double exposure.

From 1899 to 1912 Méliès made more than 400 films, the best of which combine illusion, comic burlesque, and pantomime to treat themes of fantasy in a playful and absurd fashion. He specialized in depicting extreme physical transformations of the human body (such as the dismemberment of heads and limbs) for comic effect. His films included pictures as diverse as Cléopâtre (1899; “Cleopatra”), Le Christ marchant sur les eaux (1899; “Christ Walking on the Waters”), Le Voyage dans la lune (1902; “A Trip to the Moon”), Le Voyage à travers l'impossible (1904; “The Voyage Across the Impossible”); and Hamlet (1908). He also filmed studio reconstructions of news events as an early kind of newsreel. It never occurred to him to move the camera for close-ups or long shots.

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