Czech Film Archive Discovers Méliès Films, Long Believed to Have Been Lost

Contributor; Slovakia (@martykudlac)
Czech Film Archive Discovers Méliès Films, Long Believed to Have Been Lost

The Czech National Film Archive (NFA) takes care of film heritage, including digital restoration. Recently, the Archive has received a film reel with three films glued together and labeled as “Les Transmutations Imperceptibles”, a work by the pioneer of early cinema, Georges Méliès, from 1904.

The French illusionist embraced the new invention of film. Unlike the brothers Lumière, he experimented with the new medium devising special effects such as multiple-exposure, dissolves or time-lapse photography for his imaginative films that mark the birth of science-fiction film, earning him the moniker “the creator of the cinematic spectacle”.

“When I had looked through the reel, I knew immediately it wasn't [Les Transmutations Imperceptibles], and although the beginning is missing, a part of the reel was hitherto undiscovered film. The images and scenes on the reel were never documented,” said Jeanne Pommeau, the restorer at NFA. The three films were scrutinized in detail and the first one was confirmed to be Méliès´ long lost film Match de Prestidigitation (1904). “It is an extraordinary discovery,” said the director of the National Film Archive, Michal Bregant. Match de Prestidigitation, (or, The Contest of Prestidigitators), features an illusionist splitting himself in two and performing magic tricks before becoming one again. 

The second film was identified as Pathé's production, the plot corresponding to Méliès' 1905 film La Chaussette. The last film comes from Gaumont and was identified as Amoreux de Madame (1909), believed to be also unknown up to now. While the researchers don't know why the three films were joined together, they might have been screened like that at travelling showcases around 1910, they will be presented in their current form.


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Czech Film Archiveearly cinemaGeorges MélièsMatch de Prestidigitation

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