Early techniques involving the production of moving images were often simplified yet beautifully thought-out ways of creating the sort of effects that would have otherwise been very difficult given the technology at the time. In fact, the effects introduced to film at the time almost seemed to be derived from the influx of magicians and optical-based shows that were so popular during the 1800’s. Georges Melies is explained by Matthew Solomon, to blur the lines between going to watch the shows live, and using the primitive recording technology at the time to capture the unique stage productions that are now infamous. It was said that “such brutal but often casually inflicted violence is not at all uncommon in the films of Méliès as it was in his magic theater” (Solomon M, 2012).
The second article I have chosen also examines the idea that early film took inspiration from magic shows as “[Richard] Mansfield’s performance in Jekyll and Hyde was similar to a form of magic act known as ‘quick change artistry’ ” (Danahay M, 2012). It could be said that the special effects in early film were merely magic tricks performed under the new-found technology of video capture. The legacy of early film tricks and the application of techniques like dolly shots and stop trick appear to have inspired directors in the present day, with Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry all making modern interpretations of the dream-like, unfamiliar scenes that Melies and Mansfield made originally.
Danahay M, (2012). Jekyll and Hyde and the History of Special Effects.
Solomon M (2012). Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913).