CHIROT ZERO ZINE--ANNOUNCING NEW BLOG

Dear Followers, Friends, fellow Workers:

I have just begun a new blog/zine called
Chirot Zero Zine A Heap of Rubble--
Anarkeyology of hand eye ear notations
---
http://chirotzerozine.blogspot.com
the blog is more exusively concerned than this one with presenting essays, reviews (inc. "bad reviews") , Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, Event Scores, Manifestos, Manifotofestos, rantin' & raving, rock'roll, music all sorts--by myself and others--if you are interested in being a contributor, please feel free to contact me at david.chirot@gmail.com
as with this blog, the arts are investigated as a part of rather than apart from the historical, economic, political actualities of yesterday, today, & tomorrow
as with al my blogs--
contributions in any language are welcome

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier
The government under pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word “liberated” loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view the use of the words “collateral damage” when they kill innocent men, women and children. They describe people defending their homelands as terrorists, savages and hostiles . . . My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it is too late—see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. --Leonard Peltier, Annual Message January 2004 (Leonard Peltier is now serving 31st year as an internationally recognized Political Prisoner of the United States Government)

Injustice Continues: Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole

# Injustice continues: Leonard Peltier denied parole‎ - By Mahtowin A wave of outrage swept the progressive community worldwide at the news that Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Aug. ... Workers World - 2 related articles » US denies parole to American Indian activist Leonard Peltier‎ - AFP - 312 related articles » # Free Leonard Peltier 2009 PRISON WRITINGS...My Life Is My Sun Dance Leonard Peltier © 1999. # Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance - by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden - 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. In 1977, Leonard Peltier... books.google.com/books?isbn=0312263805... - # Leonard Peltier, American Indian Activist, Denied Parole And Won't ... Aug 21, 2009 ... BISMARCK, ND — American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole ... www.huffingtonpost.com/.../leonard-peltier-american_n_265764.html - Cached - Similar - #

Gaza--War Crime: Collective Punishment of 1.5 Million Persons--Recognized as "The World's Largest Concentration Camp"

Number of Iraquis Killed Since USA 2003 Invasion began

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

US & International Personnel losses in Iraq &Afghanistan; Costs of the 2 Wars to US


Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,667
icasualties.org/oif/

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,453
http://icasualties.org/oef/


=

Cost of War in Iraq

$691,188,637,164

Cost of War in Afghanistan
$229,137,844,021

The cost in your community

www.nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

flickr: DEATH FROM THIS WINDOW/DOORS OF GUANTANAMO--Essays, Links, Video-- US use of Torture

VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual


VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL
No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
GAZA-GUANTANAMO-ABU GHRAIB—THE GLOBE
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com
Addresses: david.chirot@gmail.com
David Baptiste Chirot
740 N 29 #108
Milwaukee, WI 53208
USA

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'



Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'


The current 'Miss Universe' Dayana Mendoza (formerly Miss Venezuela) and 'Miss America' Crystal Stewart visited US troops stationed in Guantanamo Bay on March 20th, the New York Times reports. Here's Mendoza's account of the visit from her pageant blog last Friday. She says the trip "was a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.


The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Voyages to the Moon--from Poe's Hoaxes, Verne's Fictions, Melies' Cinema to Apollo & Faked Moon Landings and on to Mars

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing--
reposting this from March 2008




"collage of images from Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon


SIGHT BECOMES FLIGHT

Vision Travels
Seeing in to the Future and Discovering the Past is Already There


“It is a science fiction film set in the Past.”—Fellini on his Satyricon

for Petra Backonja's "Balloonery"

GEORGES MéLIèS: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/18/movies/homevideo/18dvds.html?_r=1&ref=arts&oref=slogin ---(
( Times article printed in full below also)



The release of these DVDS of Melies' work is one of the major film events--art events -- of this or any other year.





During the days of the Landing on the Moon, I was living in a tiny apartment in Paris at an address that i learned later had once been Rimbaud's, with a tiny cell of Anarchists who worked at the Renault factory. As we made plastiques, the French TVs stacked in a Nam June Paik arrangement against a disintegrating wall had the usual collection of "Philosophes" and experts discussing the American triumph in the Race to the Moon.

(The courtyard of the Old Soldiers Home Rimbaud describes in a poem was still there, below the windows, at the time--and still with Old Soldiers dozing in the sun. Perhaps one of them evens a long preserved "model" for Rimbaud's eyes a century earlier.)



Ah!! But!!--A commentator pointed out that actually the FRENCH had ALREADY BEEN TO THE MOON!
After all Jules Verne had sent Americans there first in his novel, and Melies had filmed this in the first years of the twentieth century!!
The film by Melies was then shown as "proof" that indeed, the French had been their first, in Verne's sending a novel's Americans there, or via the cinema of Georges Melies.

(The French experts conveniently forgot that Melies also made use of H. G Wells' First Men in the Moon.)



In an ongoing series "After Rimbaud's Illuminations" is my account of this:

Jean-Pierre is cooking horsemeat in blood and wine with garlic. It makes the cramped L shaped apartment in the slowly collapsing building all the hotter. Marcel is showing me how to make plastiques. His hard hands work slowly so I may learn. For once we are not smoking with cigarettes hanging from our lips. We are not suicidal after all. Certainly not on such a night. Marcel says three girls are coming. We will fuck them in the ass. He says they are very tight this way. But no children you see, he says, no complications. The three stacked tvs are talking incessantly about the approaching moon landing. Some famous person is saying that in Jules Verne's books and Melies' very early film classic the French have been there first. You see what assholes they are Marcel says. They think they own history. With these little bombs we will make a hole in history and then--and then--the people will rush in. The little bombs are almost done and Jean-Pierre is calling us to come eat meat and blood and wine and garlic. We will light candles but not say Grace. The three virgins are coming for us. Perhaps one can enter heaven backwards. It is very hot in here.
http://galatearesurrection3.blogspot.com/2006/08/featured-poet-david-baptiste-chirot.html ---

One might see the American version being the Lumiere Brothers’ rival form of cinema to that of Melies.--a technical recording of "objective events." A "cinema verite" combined with a reportage by Dziga Vertov's agit-prop train mobilized Kino Pravda, "remade" with the dull efficiency of American television and NASA footage.



Illustration of Verne's Projectile

“The story bears similarities to the real-life Apollo program:
• Verne's cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia.
• The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in each case.
• The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.
• Verne's voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (This is possibly due to Verne realizing, as NASA later did, that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched from the earth's equator, and Florida is the nearest part of the American mainland.)
The character of "Michel Ardan" in the novel was inspired by Nadar.”


Apollo Liftoff



Jules Verne, portrait by Nadar

Nadar was the famous photographer who made portraits of Verne and Baudelaire and in later life became celebrated as a balloonist.



Nadar caricatured by Honore Daumier--photography & flight giving birth to "aerial reconaissance"--

SIGHT BECOMES FLIGHT--


This movement form photography to flight was not lost on the fledging proto-Air Forces of the First World War, during the last years of which the American photographer Steichen created an immense body of aerial reconnaissance photo documentation of the “theater of war” and founding of new forms of analysis by the military in preparations for the next Wars.
(Steichen's experiences with the American Expeditonary Forces in WW1, of which he retained possesion amazingly enough of tens of thousands of photos, inspired his return to work for the Naval Dept of Photography and Film in WW2 at age 62.)



Nadar self portrait as a solo "avant-garde" Aviator-Artist-Aerial Reconaissance Agent


The Space Race is not only one of rocketry, but literally of who may “see further in to the future” within ever decreasing spaces of time as the speeds of the flying machines continually accelerate and eventually interface with those of the electronic media.
However, as the transmissions became ever more virtual—as the Moon Landing became televised—this viewing on a screen by millions in a proliferated “personal” “home entertainment system” rapidly depleting the cinemas of the world—reasserted the doubled nature of the old “magical thinking/rationality” of Poe and Melies, even as Technology was achieving finally that “Dream” of humankind.



Astronauts Training in a Mock up of Moon Landing at NASA

So, via the Conspiracy theorists, the “recorded live” Technological Feat was re-transformed into the Melies genre as the Faked Moon Landing, filmed in studios and broadcast "live" from sets and recordings, filmed with "actor-astronauts" and the stilted staccato speech of technicians which Tom Wolfe writes about in The Right Stuff, so seemingly at odds with the magnitude of the realization of a voyage hitherto only imagined and dreamed of.
(An old issue of LIFE I have re the moon landing has a truly awful poem by James Dickey written re the occasion. This particular poet isn’t any more adept at putting into words the event than the supposedly unimaginative astronauts and technicians.)





One of the reasons given for generating the Conspiracy Theories of yet another Moon Hoax is the difference between these images--top: the original transmission scan image, and below, the SST converted image



Capricorn One: The set where the "Mars Landing" "takes place for the cameras"



The "Real" Landing on Mars: View from Viking 1978

Transposed to a Mars Landing, the conspiracies found "major box office" expression in the 1978 film Capricorn One starring Rock Hudson, in which the spacecraft is identical to the Apollo One used to reach the moon.

(As I write, it is rumored that in the 40th anniversary of Capricorn One will at last be celebrated by the production and release of Capricorn Two. For years the film has been rumored, and a TV series pilot was developed . . . adding more fuel to the fires of conspiracy theories and urban legends of faked and real Martian Landings)





The first photo taken on the surface of Mars, Viking, 21 July 1976


For an excellent introduction to the myriad conspiracy theories and links see:
Apollo Moon Landing hoax theories - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Daguerrotype of Poe in 1848, a year before his death





A Balloon Hoax: the model of the Victoria

So--not only had the Americans originally gone to the moon and faked going there first, they were doing so all over again over a century later!



Nadar: Charles Baudelaire--Poet, Dandy, Art Critic, Inventor of the Prose Poem and Translator and Posthumous Poe Promoter Sans Pareil



d-b Chirot

"In 1854 Charles Baudelaire translated Edgar Allan Poe's works into French. Verne became one of the most devoted admirers of the American author, and wrote his first science fiction tale, 'A voyage in Balloon' (1851), under the influence of Poe. Later Verne would write a sequel to Poe's unfinished novel, Narrative of a Gordon Pym, entitled The Sphinx of the Ice-Fields (1897)."



Verne's Columbiad on the way to the Moon



d-b Chirot

Sadly, more than Wolfe points out, there is however a significant decline in the language used for the events, real or hoaxed, from that of Edgar Poe to that of James Dickey and Network Television and NASA. And in Capricorn One for that matter!

Perhaps the Space Voyagers of the Future may learn from Melies and Poe a doubled awareness of the imaginary elements at the heart of the "real," and the ultra high octane propulsion concocted of fiction, hoaxes, magic (Melies was a stage magician by trade) and their doubled, punning senses of "exposure" in film (and as news stories, as "developing news" in Poe's case) as at once the "developing" of "real/reel images" of the "set" and fictional stories and dialogues, and as fictions which "expose" the "real/reel" which presents story-plots and conspiracy-plots which end up "fore-telling" the "documented events" of their futures which are in turn perceived almost immediately as possibly being "hoaxes" via the "plot elements" "planted" in the "original versions."




In "The Philosophy of Composition," and in various other essays, including the one excerpted below, Poe notes that the primary goal of a poem is the achievement of a desired effect, a Philosophy not unlike that of the Magician Melies who creates effects "out of thin air." The effect demonstrates to the audience the presence of a reality which without the poet or magician goes unseen. To make visible the invisible and invisible the visible, to chart the voyages back and forth and in-between these realms, to double back and forth between "real/reel" effects and the illusions which create them, and the illusionary effects created by actual materials, (the materials & techniques of the poem Poe writes of, the materials & techniques Melies uses as film maker) is to produce the new genres of "science-fiction" and "sci-fi cinema" which in turn inspire and "fore-tell" historical events and their "documentations. Which in turn become suspected of being, after all, conspiracy plots making use of "science fiction" and "sci-fi cinema" techniques and effects.


"A skilful artist has constructed a tale. He has not fashioned the thoughts to accommodate his incidents, but having deliberately conceived a certain single effect to be wrought, he then invents such incidents, he then combines such events, and discusses them in such tone as may best serve him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very first sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then in his very first step has he committed a blunder. In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one preestablished design."

Edgar Allan Poe, n his third essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne, for the November 1847 issue of Godey's Lady's Book


The hoaxing poet who invented the detective who uses rational methods of thought to solve fictional crimes based on "real events" as they are occurring and reported on as "developing news" in the first "newspaper wars" ("The Mystery of Marie Roget" as superbly investigated in Daniel Stashower's The Beautiful Cigar Store Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and the Invention of Murder) and the magician turned film maker who uses fictions to "develop a real/reel document" may be seen as creating the contemporary "scene." A "scene" in which combinings of hoaxes and forgeries in the creation of historical events such as the Iraq War and the proliferations of disinformations, edited and altered "documents" and "footage" manipulate and propel the "spectacular events" and ”dramatic effects" which constitute "daily life" in a media-saturated globalized "theater of war" called "the War on Terror."
In the visions of Poe and Melies, one finds a doubling of "magical thinking" and technology
in which rational and irrational thoughts and desires combine for the attainment of an effect which is simultaneously an illusion and a reality. This destabilizing creates an "uncertainty principle" at the core of technology's aspirations to "objectivity" in the creation of "developing news" and "reports on progress." The "magical/poetic" effect produced introduces "Conspiracy Theory" as an integral element in the Propaganda of the Real/Reel.



Via the doublings of "magical/poetic effects" and technology as a "fore-telling", is a reply Poe made to American critics' attacks on his seemingly "foreign" (mainly "German") tales compared to the more wholesome "American" fare of his peers. "Terror is not of Germany, but of the Soul." And so via the Soul there enters "the Global War on Terror."

And also for both Poe and Melies, the Space Race, the desire to find other globes to which to travel, explore, whether as”real/reel developments," or as hoaxes and magic tricks the "effectiveness" of which may in turn be used as the inspiration for ever more technologically spectacular and spectral "effects"--with which literally to "bombard" "target audiences" and create also the "scenes of carnage" known as "accidents" and "collateral damage."
An in this way, "effects" become the producers of yet another genre, another aspect of the "Philosophy of Composition" and "magic/camera tricks--"side effects"—
Which open new vistas—incite new visions---create rhizomatic proliferations—in an acceleration of viruses and anti-viruses –plunging into the “oceans of space”—those Oceans on the Moon from which the Verne/Melies/Apollo return to land in the Oceans of Earth—those pages, screens, images, virtualities, “sets” and “fakes” and “documentaries”—traveling at once into the future and into the past and so creating this indeterminancy known as the present---
(and in the vision of Paul Virilio, the “Accident of Accidents” which happens in Real Time--)



Viking Mars Lander with human to show size scale (1/100 millionth of Kevin Costner's Ego)

An interesting side effect of the Moon Landings costing so much was that, in order for President Regan to envision the construction of a “ Star Wars” missile defense system—a fantasy project named after a film—
NASA funding was cut—and within less than two decades it was noted the the first mission to Mars which landed there and moved about, exploring and analyzing the surface, the atmosphere, photographing and videotaping the views—cost less than it took for Kevin Costner to make the box office failure futurist fantasy “Waterworld.”
Ever in box office competition, Moon Voyages, Mars Missions, and the cinema—
The cinema which in turn gives names to fantasy “Star Wars” military programs costing billions—and creates boondoggles such as “Waterworld”—losing hundreds of millions—
While cheaply and efficiently a Mission lands on Mars and introduces cinematography to the future Martian audiences back on Earth—



Viking View of Mars Surface

Many of them convinced all the while that what they are watching—has not yet escaped the studios of Melies’ filmed theatrical & magical staged productions of 19th Century novels.




Melies as an old man, poor & forgotten running a train station shop with his wife

Space travel, time travel—imaginary, real, faked—at the intersections of magic and technology—of documentary news and fictions—of literal history and literary history—of photography, cinema, television and flying machines—
Flickering fire lit images on cave walls traveling through time into cinemas—into living rooms—and into space—from the stone walls underground to the surfaces of the Moon and Mars—
Vision travels--




"Lunar Discoveries"
Lithograph that appeared in the New York Sun, Friday, October 16, 1835




1836 Italian Edition of "The Moon Hoax" published in Naples

“Poe predates Verne and Wells, as well as the Melies brothers, with his own voyage to the moon. Poe published "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans PFaall" in the June 1835 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe's voyager travels to the moon in a balloon (see Poe's "The Balloon Hoax" for another 'steampunk' fantasy). While Poe planned for this to be the first installment in a series designed as a hoax, the New York Sun began a six part series which came to be known as the "Great Moon Hoax" in the August 25, 1835 edition of the daily newspaper. These articles proclaimed the discovery of life on the Moon. The fake author of the article, Dr. Andrew Grant, reported the discoveries were made by real life astronomer Sir John Herschel using a newly developed telescope. The hoax describes fantastic animals on the Moon, as well as trees and oceans, and bat-like humanoids who have built temples. The true author of the article has been attributed to reporter Richard Adams Locke, although he never publicly admitted to being the author. Reportedly, while Sir Herschel was amused at his name and fame being used in the article, he later became disturbed whenever confronted with questions from people who took the hoax as true. Feeling that his story was too far fetched by comparison, Poe gave up on the idea of any more articles furthering his 'voyage to the moon' hoax.”



Richard Adams Locke

Authorship of the hoax is usually attributed to Richard Adams Locke, a Cambridge-educated reporter who was working for the Sun. However, Locke never publicly admitted to being the author of the hoax, and rumors have persisted that others were also involved in the production of the story. Two men in particular have been mentioned in connection with the hoax: Jean-Nicolas Nicollet, a French astronomer who was travelling through America at the time (though he was in Mississippi, not New York, when the moon hoax appeared), and Lewis Gaylord Clark, editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine. However, there is no real evidence to suggest that anyone but Locke was the author of the hoax.





"Despite the intense public speculation about the moon story, the Sun never publicly conceded that it was a hoax. On September 16, 1835 the Sun did publish a column in which it discussed the possibility that the story was a hoax, but it never confessed to anything. Quite the contrary. It wrote that, "Certain correspondents have been urging us to come out and confess the whole to be a hoax; but this we can by no means do, until we have the testimony of the English or Scotch papers to corroborate such a declaration." This is the closest the Sun ever came to an admission of guilt."



New DVDs: Georges Méliès



Flicker Alley
Georges Méliès plays a scientist who inflates a severed head (also Méliès) in “The Man By DAVE KEHR
Published: March 18, 2008
GEORGES MéLIèS: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA



Flicker Alley
A scene from Georges Méliès’s “Impossible Voyage” (1904).

There is an often repeated story about Georges Méliès, probably apocryphal but highly poetic. In 1895 Méliès, a professional magician and the owner of a small theater along the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris, approached the Lumière Brothers, the inventors of the process that enabled motion pictures to be projected on a large screen, with the intention of licensing the process to make films for his theater. The Lumières rebuffed him.
“The motion picture is an invention without a future,” Antoine Lumière supposedly proclaimed, no doubt feeling that he was doing Méliès a favor by refusing him the rights to what would certainly be a short-lived fad.
What we do know is that Méliès went to one of the Lumières’ many rivals, the British inventor Robert W. Paul, and bought a primitive projector. With his assistants he built his own camera and set to work.
By June of 1896, filming largely in the garden of his home in the Parisian suburb Montreuil, in a studio he had built based on the exact dimensions of his theater, Méliès embarked on a series of productions. These short films grew from two or three minutes to half an hour or more, and drew on his vast imaginative powers and the tricks he had learned as a successful stage magician to create an outpouring of special-effects extravaganzas. Often hand-colored and designed to be shown with live narrative accompaniment; his films soon toured the world, playing a central role in the establishment of the new medium.
By 1903 Méliès was successful enough to open a branch office in New York (at 204 East 38th Street) under the direction of his brother Gaston (who himself produced several significant early westerns in the wilds of New Jersey). Other booking offices opened in Berlin, Barcelona and London, and Méliès was on his way to becoming one of the first international film moguls.
From the ambitious new company Flicker Alley comes “Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913),” a major act of scholarship produced by Eric Lange and David Shepard that brings together surviving Méliès films from eight countries. The five-disc box set, with more than 170 titles and a total running time of 13 hours, includes prints patiently pieced together from incomplete sources all over the world. Among the highlights are hand-colored versions of several of Méliès’s spectaculars, some presented for the first time accompanied by the detailed narrations that he wrote for their public showings.
His technique essentially consisted of extended, frontally filmed scenes presented in continuous takes. Meant to capture the experience of sitting in his boulevard theater, his style was far more suited to the presentation of elaborate tableaus than to the telling of stories. Even a film as well known as “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) relies on spoken word rather than visual style to flesh out its characters and develop its narration.
The Lumière Brothers — scientists and industrialists — saw their invention as a way of dispassionately recording reality for study purposes, but Méliès was their temperamental and professional opposite: a veteran showman who saw in the new technology a bigger and better way of continuing to bamboozle the public that flocked to his magic shows.
Many of his early films are simply cinematic variations on classic stage illusions: sudden appearances and disappearances, made possible by his discovery that you could stop the camera, introduce some new props and actors, and then start it up again. To audiences of the time, these transformations seemed miraculous.
Méliès learned to structure a series of magical effects into a provisional narrative (stage magicians were doing the same thing), and in the process helped set the form for the 10-minute story films that were soon to emerge in Britain and the United States. His “Temptation of Saint Anthony” from 1898 presents that holy man afflicted by the sudden appearances and disappearances of chorus girls in tights: perhaps not anthropologically accurate, but a highly satisfying spectacle for the sensation-seekers of the Parisian boulevards.
But another, equally important influence on Méliès was the magic lantern shows, often incorporated into magicians’ performances in fairs and urban music halls, which presented a single view — of an old mill at the top of a stream, for example — that moved and mutated, thanks to ingenious mechanical devices. The earliest Méliès “hits,” like “The Man With the Rubber Head” (1901), represent magic lantern ideas continued by other means, in this case, a severed head (Méliès’s own) inflated to gigantic proportions by a scientist (Méliès again) equipped with a pair of bellows.
As Méliès films became longer and more elaborate (most famously, “A Trip to the Moon,” but also 1904’s “Impossible Voyage” and 1905’s “Palace of the Arabian Nights”), the individual effects grew in technical complexity and artistic ambition. But the films remained progressions of disconnected scenes — a series of disruptively different “views,” changed by an invisible operator — rather than seamless narrations.
That, and Méliès’s apparent inability to conceive of cutting within a scene, made his work seem distinctly old-fashioned. (Right up to his final film in 1913, “The Voyage of the Bourrichon Family,” he continued to shoot each scene as a single shot from a fixed, rather distant position.)
As the first decade of the 20th century drew to a close, Méliès found himself surpassed by other filmmakers and eventually lost his business. By 1925 he was installed in a stand at the Gare Montparnasse, where he and his wife sold snacks and trinkets to travelers (the premise for Brian Selznick’s recent children’s book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”).
But Méliès may yet have the last word. It is his universe of nearly complete artificiality, built out of painted flats and camera tricks, that has come to dominate the aesthetic of popular film in the digital age. Films as different as “Zodiac” and “The Golden Compass” may use computer-generated imagery — created through the magic of manipulated pixels, rather than optical effects and painted backgrounds — to replace the observable world, but the ultimate end is the same: to transport the viewer into a sphere of untrammeled imagination.
There are moments these days when a filmgoer may pine for at least a touch of Lumière-style realism in the increasingly insular, abstract world of popular entertainment: a touch of the actual to offset the imagined. But for the moment, we are living in the movie world created by Georges Méliès more than a century ago, smug in the illusion that we are experiencing the very latest thing. (Flicker Alley, $89.95, not rated.)
Day One: Tuesday Morning, August 25, 1835

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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