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Monday, March 10th, 2008

M?li?s Matinee

Yesterday we had the FilmRadar Field Trip to see the M?li?s Matinee at the Silent Movie Theatre.  I saw many M?li?s films my freshman year in film school, but that was a long time ago.  It was great to get re-acquainted with his work!  Seeing his films again (and many that I had never seen before) made me realize what an incredible genius this man really was.  He had an amazing imagination and a sharp eye for detail.  His work as a magician made him perfectly suited to be a filmmaker, as he was already well versed in the art of entertaining an audience and using visual tricks.  I have always found the very infancy of film to be a very vital and exciting time.  Pretty much anything was possible then.  There were no rules, conventions or clich?s at the time.  Everything was fresh, new and just being discovered.  The films we watched dated from 1896 to 1913.  We also watched a 30 minute documentary on 35mm about M?li?s by director Georges Franju made in 1953.  The documentary featured Mrs. M?li?s and her son.  I knew very little about M?li?s personally and was saddened to hear that he was ripped off the squeezed out of the movie business by the competition.  Apparently he even burned a large amount of his films in later years.  Fortunately a large body of his work still survives.  The work of M?li?s inspired numerous other filmmakers including D.W. Griffith who said, “I owe him everything.”  The program was hosted and presented by David Shepard, the great film preservationist.  He is a true expert on the silent era and always compelling to listen to.

The films of M?li?s have such a beautiful, surreal dreamlike quality.  I almost felt like I was in a lovely trance like state watching them.  Flicker Alley has now released a definitive collection of M?li?s films on DVD including 5 discs and over 13 hours and a total of 173 rare and rediscovered films! 

After the screening, I rounded up the FilmRadar fans and we went down to Canter’s Deli for food and discussion.  If you’re never been on one of the “field trips”, I’d encourage you to join us!  Anyone is welcome, the only requirement is that you must love film.

Written by Karie (site owner) on 03/10 at 01:49 PM