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World Cinema Series: Cine-Concert Georges Méliès

What Leave your habitual ideas and expectations of cinema at the door and enter the imaginarium of Georges Méliès. Be transported to the wonderful period that marked the advent of cinema.
When 1 November 2011 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

If you are an SFS member (normal member or Reel Card member), you can obtain a free ticket by flashing your membership card at the SFS desk at the theatre entrance. You may ask for up to 2 more tickets for your guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Important: For Reel Card members, this screening will count for 2 admissions per person, due to the more expensive ticket price.

Non-members may sign up online or at the SFS desk -- we will issue membership on the spot. No tickets will be sold. Free seating.



In conjunction with Dreams & Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris exhibition

Cine-Concert Georges Méliès
1898 – 1908 / France / 105 min / 35mm / Rating TBC
by Georges Méliès
Co-presented with the Embassy of France
Silent with live-piano by Lawrence Lehérissey and live-narration by Marie-Hélène Lehérissey (in French) and Hossan Leong (in English)

"A magician who put the cinematograph into a hat and took out Cinema." (Edgar Morin)

Leave your habitual ideas and expectations of cinema at the door and enter the imaginarium of Georges Méliès. Be transported to the wonderful period that marked the advent of cinema. Listen to the resonant harmonies of a piano and the playful voice of a narrator as the inanimate jumps alive on screen with a flicker that illuminates the darkened theatre.

In this exclusive travelling cine-concert of Georges Méliès films that commemorates his 150th birthday, a definitive selection of films from Méliès' oeuvre will be accompanied by Méliès descendents Lawrence Lehérissey and Marie-Hélène Lehérissey who will be performing live piano improvisations and narration, a practice that stays true to the way these films were presented at the turn of the 20th century.

Méliès was a charismatic magician whose pivotal encounter with the cinematograph in 1895 resulted in an expansion of the creative possibilities of the new technological medium. As a pioneer of cinema, Méliès drew from his interests and experience in magical theatre, breathed life into the cinematograph, explored the limits of what the medium was capable of, and pioneered cinematic narratives suffused with magic, wit and wonder.

Méliès performed magic in front of the camera as well as in the editing room. His films explored the chimerical and oneiric possibilities of cinema, foreshadowing movements such as surrealism and subsequent uses of the medium to depict the fantastical. His experiments in creating illusionary effects through editing and manipulation of moving images are in many ways, the genesis of special effects in contemporary cinema.

Cine-concert Georges Méliès features a selection of films from Méliès extensive corpus that will provide audiences an insight into Méliès enigmatic personality and the recurring narrative tropes in his works. The programme includes films such as The Man with the Rubber Head, a tale of an alchemistic shopkeeper (played by Méliès himself) who blows up his own head, and also iconic films such as the carnivalesque A Trip to the Moon, the first ever science-fiction narrative shot on film.

Programme Line-up:

Le mélomane / The Music-Lover (1903)
La tentation de Saint Antoine / The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1898)
Barbe-Bleue / Blue Beard (1901)
Le diable noir / The Black Imp (1905)
Voyage dans la lune / A Trip to the Moon (1902)
La chrysalide et le papillon / The Brahmin and the Butterfly (1901)
Le merveilleux éventail vivant / The Wonderful Living Fan (1901)
La fée Carabosse / The Witch (1906)
Impressionniste fin de siècle / The Conjurer (1899)
L'homme-orchestre / The One-man Band (1900)
Le sacre d'Edouard VII  / The Coronation of Edward VII (1902)
Dislocation mystérieuse / An Extraordinary Dislocation (1901)
Les cartes vivantes / The Living Playing Cards (1905)
L'homme à la tête en caoutchouc / The Man with the Rubber Head (1902)
Le cake walk infernal / The Infernal Cake-Walk (1903)
Au royaume des fées / Kingdom of the Fairies (1903)
Le Fakir de Singapour / The Indian Sorcerer (1908)

About the Director George Méliès

The iconic George Méliès stood at the threshold of the theatrical traditions of the 19th century and the birth of cinema in the 20th century. He formed a link between these two milieus and jumpstarted the aesthetic use of the cinematograph. He did this by looking back and drawing from his experience in magical performance and from the narrative conventions of theatre, as well as by looking ahead at the use of special effects in cinema.

Born in Paris on 8 December 1861, Georges Méliès was the youngest of three children. His parents ran a footwear manufacturing business that was flourishing by the time of Méliès' birth. Envisioning that he would be the one to take over the family business, his parents sent him to a prestigious boarding school where he received his baccalaureate. In this period, Méliès already demonstrated an interest in the arts and yearned to learn painting at the École des Beaux Arts, an aspiration that was thwarted by his family's insistence that Méliès was to pursue a formal and utilitarian education. While making do with private painting lessons, Méliès excelled at the mechanical work in his family's boot factory, which provided him with the technical skills for his future innovations in cinema.

Méliès' calling to the art of cinema came in two phases. Firstly, he had an eventful business trip to London in 1884, in which he immersed himself in the world of theatrical spectacles and developed a passion for magic performance. Committed to becoming an illusionist, Méliès dedicated most of his time practicing and performing to friends and family upon his return to Paris. Following his father's retirement, Méliès sold his share of the business to his brothers and bought the Theatre Robert-Houdin, in which he developed his own illusions and magic tricks and performed regularly. Then came his epiphanic moment when he viewed a demonstration of the Lumière Brothers' cinematograph in 1895. Méliès was held spellbound by the realisation that technology could bring illusion closer to reality. Keen on recreating the spectacles that he performed at the Theatre Robert-Houdin, Méliès' opened the world's first movie studio and started his own production company in 1897, directing 531 films between 1896 and 1914.

With the increasing commoditisation of the cinema industry, Méliès' studio was forced into bankruptcy in 1913, and he spent the rest of his working years undertaking odd jobs, performing in touring variety shows and working as a toy salesman.

However, his contributions and importance to cinema was recognised and he was given a home by the cinema society and received the Legion of Honour award which was presented by Louis Lumière. For the remainder of his life, he was often visited by film historians, filmmakers, as well as the surrealists who admired his films. We continue to watch Méliès films with a sense of wonder and admiration because his films made an unprecedented contribution to cinema and to the way we willingly suspend our disbelief when confronted with the moving image.

Live-Piano: Lawrence Lehérissey
Lawrence Lehérissey, a professional piano player since 18, studies composition and improvisation at the French National Music Academy. He has travelled around the world performing live-piano to the films of his great-great grandfather Georges Méliès. He is also the co-founder of the band Improbable and a member of the band Les Portugaises ensablées.

Live-Narration: Marie-Hélène Lehérissey
Marie-Hélène Lehérissey is Georges Melies' great granddaughter. Before becoming the organiser of Georges Méliès‘ estate through the collection of the association "Les Amis de Georges Méliès – Cinémathèque Méliès", Marie-Hélène worked as an editor for film and television. Her live barkings follow the tradition of narration that was commonplace during the screenings of silent films in the 1900s.

About World Cinema Series

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs across the world, from renowned classics to neglected masterpieces. Witness the wonders, possibilities, textures as well as the revelatory moments that have contributed to the rich history of cinema. Take a leap of faith and discover the art of cinema that continues to affect and inspire us on the big screen – as it was meant to be seen – with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.

This quarter, we draw parallels between cinema and works of art that will be exhibited as part of the Dreams & Reality: Masterpieces of Painting, Drawing and Photography from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris exhibition. Just as the impressionists and post-impressionists responded to the onset of modernity in the turn of the century by visually rethinking the world around them, cinema was a newly emerging medium at the time that served as a platform for previously unexplored forms of visual expression. In November, we return to one of the pioneers of cinema and the first cine-magician Georges Méliès, who saw the cinematograph as a new technological medium that enabled crafty excursions into a mythological and subconscious realm. In December, we present the cinematic work of Jean Renoir, who echoed and interpreted the impressionistic aesthetics of his father, the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.