George Méliès

film 24 of 70

The Coronation of Edward VII

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 19, 2015

Wow. This looks a real space, with non-gesticulating, non-exaggerating players making me absolutely believe that the filmmakers were there, and that I am too. They weren’t, of course, and this re-enactment introduces us to another film-historical commonplace. That is that film producers would often re-enact or, in this rare case, anticipate real-life events, and then sell/exhibit them as if they were the real life events. There was sometimes something of deception in this practice, of dire partisanship and ideology and all sorts of other things. But not always, and not in this case. The conventions of the documentary film, let alone of broadcast journalism, were hardly even imagined yet. Fact and fiction were more complicatedly intermingled than we might think. More productively too.

That’s still true. Anyway, all that aside, here’s an unexpected, unsuspected side of our favourite French film fantasist. When the spirit dictated, or when an assignment or opportunity presented itself, Méliès could make films as modest and circumspect as anyone. He was ever the artist, however; I note with appreciation that the pacing and exploration of this framed space are almost, are practically (Orson) Wellesian.