The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part III

    Js headshot 180x180
    26 Jul 2018
    Clock 45min      Length1mi
    5 ratings


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    Make a left onto the little path in between Pichon et Marchand. Then make the first left, and our next host is 4 tombs down on the left.


    Just look at the twinkle in his eye, so well-captured by the sculptor. The sparkle invites you to linger awhile, there may be wonder to behold!

    Georges Méliès started out doing tricks on the stage, taking over the theater of magician Robert-Houdin, who gave his name to Houdini. When Méliès saw the first projections of cinema, he instantly saw the potential of the new medium, and devoted himself to making movies. He would go on to create more than 600 of them. Audiences marveled at the intricate films, which deployed a superior production value to anything elsewhere.

    His techniques were at the forefront, like storyboarding, using multiple exposures, substitution splices, dissolves and time-lapse photography. His innovations even pushed the limits of possibility to better resemble the vision in his head. In his masterpiece "A Trip to the Moon" he meticulously painted each frame to make a full-length color film, unheard of in 1902.

    Méliès pushed to have his gem seen all over the world. He quickly lost control, as pirated copies ran rampant, helped by a sneaky deal with Thomas Edison's production company. Unfair business practices often got the best of Méliès, an artist whose creations profited others more than himself.

    The Great War ended his filmmaking, the very first movie studio in France taken over by the military and his reels transformed into bootheels. After the War, he returned to the stage to make ends meet, but ran into financial hardship forcing him to sell his house in Montreuil. In a fit of rage, he burned his personal stock of films.

    Ironically, it's thanks to piracy that any copies survived. When the Surrealists took an interest in the director, they found him selling toys and bonbons in a stand at the Gare Montparnasse. Late recognition brought enough donations for the old man to live out the final years of his life with dignity in a retirement home.

    If you're looking for work in show business, leave your business card here with George for those in the industry to find it.

    Now, head back out to the cobblestone road and make a left to continue walking.

    Keep a look out for the third big path on the right.

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