May Days of Melies – The Melomaniac [Le mélomane] (1903)

Méliès takes his detachable head game, as previously seen in The Four Troublesome Heads and The Man with the India Rubber Head, to the next level as Le mélomane (aka The Music Lover). Curiously, the notes selected can be considered the opening to the United Kingdom anthem, God Save the King/Queen (and in the United States, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, aka, America). One can wonder if this was intentional by the Frenchman, and whether it was perhaps a nod to the other two pioneering nations in cinema at the time along with France: the USA and England.

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May Days of Melies – The Infernal Cakewalk [Le cake-walk infernal] (1903)

The Cakewalk dance was developed at plantation get-togethers by slaves in the southern United States. Thereafter it was performed in minstrel shows, exclusively by men at first. After a performance of the Cakewalk in a competition at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, an enormous cake was awarded to the winning couple, thus the phrase, “takes the cake“.

Plot summary of the movie per the original Méliès catalogue:

Pluto, having seen the earth, comes back home amazed at the success of that well-known dance, the ‘cake-walk.’ He has brought back with him two noted well-known dancers, who start their favorite dance amidst the flames. A queer and ugly being wishes also to join in the dance, but his limbs break away and dance far from him. All the subjects of His Majesty are seized with the irresistible mania for dancing, and start an unbridled provincial dance. At this sight Satan starts out of the earth a large blaze, which annihilates everything around him, disappearing himself through the flames. This view has beautiful new effects and much improves with colors. For the first time in a cinematograph view one can see some of the will-o’-the-wisp wandering among human beings. The effect is magical.”

Never Give Up: Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation!

Arthur Boorman is a disabled United States veteran of the Gulf War and was told by doctors that he would never again walk on his own without assistance. He stumbled upon an article about low-impact yoga – in this case, DDP Yoga (named for professional wrestler-turned-fitness guru, “Diamond” Dallas Page) – and decided to give it a shot.

This short video shows the incredible story of what happened. I hope it brings some inspiration to your day.

March Melies Madness! – Divers at Work on the Wreck of the Maine [Visite sous-marine du Maine] (1898)

Méliès filmed Divers at Work on the Wreck of the Maine (aka Visite sous-marine du Maine) thru a fish tank containing live fish to create an effect of the action taking place underwater.

Early in 1898, an explosion sunk the American battleship “The Maine”, which was anchored in Havana harbor, killing 252 sailors. This ultimately led to the brief Spanish-American war. In the film, divers examine the wreck and find the body of a drowned sailor. They haul the corpse up via a rope.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0224357/

Happy President’s Day!

1st Yellow Journalism Propaganda in Film

Shooting Captured Insurgents (1898) – James H. White

Shooting Captured Insurgents is a hyper-realistic re-enactment filmed during the Spanish-American War, and having the purpose of bolstering sympathy for the Cuban rebels (and antagonism towards the Spanish). The United States had previously entered the conflict in early 1898 after the sinking of the USS Maine battleship in Havana harbor left 258 of the ship’s crew dead.

In the film, Spanish freedom fighters are led in front of a Spanish firing squad and then executed. The movie would play with no explanation that the footage shown was not real i.e. staged, leaving the audience to believe they had just witnessed actual deaths.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0229725/

1st United States President on Film

McKinley at Home, Canton, Ohio (1896)

The 1st United States President on film: McKinley at Home, Canton, Ohio is a reenactment of William McKinley receiving the Republican nomination for President of the United States in September 1896. The actual nomination had been several weeks earlier. McKinley is shown emerging from his house to receive the news from his secretary George Cortelyou. His wife Ida can be seen in a rocking chair on the porch. McKinley is seen removing his hat and wiping his forehead with a handkerchief after receiving the news.

It was filmed by a two man crew for American Mutoscope and Biograph Company on 68 mm film, 60.02 m in length. McKinley’s brother Abner and former US president Benjamin Harrison were stockholders in the film company.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0203681/