Thursday, September 29, 2016

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0026 - BRAHMIN AND THE BUTTERFLY, THE (Georges Méliès, 1901, France, BW)


(Georges Méliès, 1901, France, BW)


The Brahmin and the Butterfly
La Chrysalide et le Papillon d'or

Directed by     Georges Méliès
Release dates 1901
Running time 2min
Country France
Language Silent

La Chrysalide et le Papillon d'or, released in the United States as The Brahmin and the Butterfly, is a 1901 French short silent fantasy film, directed by Georges Méliès. It is listed as numbers 332-333 in Star Film Company's catalogues.


A magician, playing the flute, makes a large caterpillar emerge from its cocoon, and then turns it into a woman-butterfly. Infatuated, he tries to capture her with a blanket, turning her into an Arab princess he covets more. But in trying to seduce it, he himself ends up being transformed into a large caterpillar.


The Brahmin and the Butterfly was inspired by Buatier de Kolta's 1885 magic act Le Cocon, ou Le Ver à Soie. In the act, de Kolta drew a silkworm on paper; the paper broke to reveal a cocoon, which opened to reveal de Kolta's wife dressed as a butterfly. Méliès appears in the film as the Brahmin. The effects for the film were created using stage machinery and substitution splices.

Release and survival

Like many of Méliès's films, The Brahmin and the Butterfly was sold both in black-and-white and in a hand-colored version. The film survives only in black-and-white. In 1979, the film scholar Jacques Malthête recreated the hand-colored version using historically authentic technology, applying eight color tones to a black-and-white print.

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. The commercial growth of the industry forced him out of business in 1913, and he died in poverty.

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