The Conjuror (1899)

aka L’impressionniste fid de siecle, An Up-to-Date Conjuror
Article 4299 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-29-2013
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France
What it is: Magic film

A magician performs various tricks involving making a woman appear and disappear, and then performs the same tricks on himself.

When I first started this movie-watching project, I originally wanted to watch all the movies in a strict chronological order, so I could learn to appreciate the growth of sophistication in the form as I saw it pass before my eyes. However, the logistics of that approach made it impossible; it would have required me to have a complete list of movies beforehand and have access to all the silent films I wanted to see at the very beginning of the project, and that was simply not practical. That’s why I’ve ended up watching movies like this one more than four thousand movies down the line, and I’ve seen so many of Melies’s magic shorts in random order that it is sometimes hard to appreciate their innovations when I’ve already seen them so often in later movies. However, I always like to give more credit to these earlier films in that they were certainly less stale than his later films, and some of the transitions in this one (especially the scenes where he and the woman jump off of a table onto the floor and change into the other character in mid-jump) are so smoothly and effectively done, you know he put a lot of work into them. I’m willing to bet that this short is more important than some of his later magic shorts, and it’s actually quite nice for what it is. I do wonder if my print is complete, though; the film seems to start in the middle of the action, and I think there’s a few seconds of footage missing at the very beginning.

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