Today’s Google doodle: Who is Georges Méliès?

A still from Google’s virtual reality doodle, which pays tribute to Georges Méliès.

A still from Google’s virtual reality doodle, which pays tribute to Georges Méliès.   | Photo Credit: Google

Google on Thursday debuted its first ever Virtual Reality doodle with a tribute to French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès. The tech giant has introduced its storytelling for VR platform Google Spotlight Stories with this doodle. They attributed the choice of the tribute to the fact that Méliès made modern special effects possible. “Over a hundred years later, we can thank the pioneering mind of Georges Méliès for much of the cinematographic wonder and special effects we see today.”

“Méliès brought magic to filmmaking through dozens of tricks and illusions. What better way to pay homage to this then by using one of the most innovative and immersive tools we have for storytelling today: Virtual Reality!” stated the Google doodle blog.

Born in Paris in 1853, Méliès was part of a boot-making family. He sold his share in the family business in 1888 to purchase the Théâtre Robert-Houdin and created new illusions to improve the attendance at the theatre.

Soon after, Méliès tried collaborating with the Lumière brothers — who patented the cinematograph — but they turned down his offer. He then bought one of Robert W. Paul’s Animatograph and used it to exhibit short films in his threatre. In 1896, Méliès began making his own films, discovering cinematography methods and special effects as he went along, and built his own studio.

His A Trip to the Moon featured one of the most famous visuals in film history — a vehicle shot out of a large cannon hits the Man in the Moon in the eye. Méliès made around 1500 films, mostly shorts, but what happened to them still pains many film buffs.

During World War I, the French Army confiscated over 400 of his films and melted them down to use the silver and celluloid in them to make heels for shoes. Méliès himself, after Charles Pathé — his distributor — took over Méliès’ production house and studio, burnt all negatives of the films that were at the studio, along with his sets and costumes.

Méliès died of cancer in 1938, at the age of 76.

Thanks to film historians, around 200 of Méliès’ works were rediscovered in 1920 and are available on DVD. As the Google doodle blog says, “He saw film and cameras as more than just tools to capture images. He saw them as vehicles to transport and truly immerse people into a story.”

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 11:28:10 PM |

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