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A Mysterious Portrait (French: Le Portrait mystérieux),[1] also known as The Mysterious Portrait,[2] is an 1899 French short silent film directed by Georges Méliès. It was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 196 in its catalogs, where it is advertised as a grande nouveauté photographique extraordinaire.[1]

Contents

1 Summary 2 Production 3 Themes 4 References 5 External links

Summary[edit] A magician displays an empty picture frame against a stage backdrop, including posters on the wall. Unrolling this backdrop to reveal another, he places a neutral canvas and a stool inside the picture frame. With a gesture, the magician makes his own image come slowly into focus in the frame. It comes immediately to life, and the magician and his image hold a conversation before the image fades out of focus and disappears again. Production[edit] Méliès himself plays the magician in the film. The posters on the wall advertise his own Paris theatre of illusions, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin.[3] Effects in the film were created using the substitution splice, two multiple exposures, dissolves, and defocusing the lens to create a soft focus effect.[3] The portrait effect is an early example of a matte effect in filmmaking, in which a mask over the lens ensured that only a specific section of the image in view would be filmed and exposed. Matting had been used in still photography since the 1850s, when photographers such as Henry Peach Robinson and Oscar Gustave Rejlander used them to compose painting-like scenes. The first filmmaker to take advantage of it was likely the British cinematic pioneer George Albert Smith (who knew of Méliès through their mutual colleague Charles Urban).[4] Méliès continued to experiment with matting techniques in later films, such as The One Man Band and A Spiritualist Photographer.[4] Themes[edit] The film repeats the theme of doubling or duplication, previously explored by Méliès in The Four Troublesome Heads but now expanded from the head to the whole body.[3] As the film historian John Frazer pointed out, the film is inherently self-referential, but was "made seventy years before that concept came into the critical language."[4] References[edit]

^ a b Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 340, ISBN 9782732437323  ^ Méliès, Georges (2008), Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (DVD; short film collection), Los Angeles: Flicker Alley, ISBN 1893967352  ^ a b c Essai de reconstitution du catalogue français de la Star-Film; suivi d'une analyse catalographique des films de Georges Méliès recensés en France, Bois d'Arcy: Service des archives du film du Centre national de la cinématographie, 1981, p. 69, ISBN 2903053073, OCLC 10506429  ^ a b c Frazer, John (1979), Artificially Arranged Scenes: The Films of Georges Méliès, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., pp. 75–6, ISBN 0-8161-8368-6 

External links[edit]

A Mysterious Portrait on IMDb

v t e

Georges Méliès

Films 1896–1899

Actualities (1896–1900) Playing Cards (1896) Conjuring (1896) Watering the Flowers (1896) Arrival of a Train at Vincennes Station (1896) The Rag-Picker (1896) Post No Bills (1896) The Rescue on the River (1896) A Terrible Night (1896) A Lightning Sketch (1896) Conjurer Making Ten Hats in Sixty Seconds (1896) A Serpentine Dance (1896) Miss de Vère (English Jig) (1896) The Vanishing Lady (1896) The Haunted Castle (1896) A Nightmare (1897) Comedian Paulus Singing (1897) A Funny Mahometan (1897) An Hallucinated Alchemist (1897) The Haunted Castle (1897) On the Roofs (1897) Reconstructed newsreels (1897–1902) The Last Cartridges (1897) The Surrender of Tournavos (1897) Sea Fighting in Greece (1897) Gugusse and the Automaton (1897) Between Calais and Dover (1897) The Laboratory of Mephistopheles (1897) The Bewitched Inn (1897) After the Ball (1897) Divers at Work on the Wreck of the "Maine" (1898) The Magician (1898) The Famous Box Trick (1898) Pygmalion and Galatea (1898) Adventures of William Tell (1898) The Astronomer's Dream (1898) The Cave of the Demons (1898) The Four Troublesome Heads (1898) The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1898) Robbing Cleopatra's Tomb (1899) The Devil in a Convent (1899) The Pillar of Fire (1899) The Clown and Automobile (1899) A Mysterious Portrait (1899) Christ Walking on the Water (1899) The Dreyfus Affair (1899) Cinderella (1899) The Mysterious Knight (1899)

Films 1900–1905

Addition and Subtraction (1900) The Cook's Revenge (1900) The Misfortunes of an Explorer (1900) Paris Exposition, 1900 (1900) The One-Man Band (1900) Joan of Arc (1900) The Rajah's Dream (1900) The Two Blind Men (1900) Thanking the Audience (1900) The Christmas Dream (1900) Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (1900) A Fantastical Meal (1900) Going to Bed Under Difficulties (1900) The Doctor and the Monkey (1900) China Versus Allied Powers (1900) The Brahmin and the Butterfly (1900–01) Red Riding Hood (1900–01) The Magician's Cavern (1901) Excelsior! (1901) The Sacred Fountain (1901) Bluebeard (1901) The Man with the Rubber Head (1901) The Eruption of Mount Pelee (1902) The Catastrophe of the Balloon "Le Pax" (1902) A Trip to the Moon (1902) The Shadow-Girl (1902) The Coronation of Edward VII (1902) The Treasures of Satan (1902) Gulliver's Travels Among the Lilliputians and the Giants (1902) Robinson Crusoe (1902) The Enchanted Well (1903) The Inn Where No Man Rests (1903) The Oracle of Delphi (1903) A Spiritualistic Photographer (1903) The Melomaniac (1903) The Monster (1903) The Kingdom of the Fairies (1903) The Infernal Cauldron (1903) The Damnation of Faust (1903) A Wager Between Two Magicians, or Jealous of Myself (1904) Faust and Marguerite (1904) The Barber of Seville (1904) The Wonderful Rose-Tree (1904) The Impossible Voyage (1904) The Christmas Angel (1904) The Living Playing Cards (1905) The Palace of the Arabian Nights (1905) An Adventurous Automobile Trip (1905) Rip's Dream (1905) The Inventor Crazybrains and His Wonderful Airship (1905)

Films 1906–1912

A Mix-up in the Gallery (1906) The Chimney Sweep (1906) A Desperate Crime (1906) The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906) The Mysterious Retort (1906) Robert Macaire and Bertrand (1906) Under the Seas (1907) How Bridget's Lover Escaped (1907) Tunnelling the English Channel (1907) The Eclipse, or the Courtship of the Sun and Moon (1907) Hamlet (1907) Shakespeare Writing "Julius Caesar" (1907) Satan in Prison (1907) Humanity Through the Ages (1908) Why That Actor Was Late (1908) Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908) A Fake Diamond Swindler (1908) The Miser (1908) A Love Tragedy in Spain (1908) Mishaps of the New York–Paris Race (1908) The Woes of Roller Skaters (1908) French Cops Learning English (1908) Fun With the Bridal Party (1908) Buncoed Stage Johnnie (1908) Honeymoon in a Balloon (1908) Fortune Favors the Brave (1908) Seein' Things (1908) The Diabolic Tenant (1909) Whimsical Illusions (1909) The Spider and the Butterfly (1909) Baron Munchausen's Dream (1911) Cinderella or the Glass Slipper (1912) The Conquest of the Pole (1912) The Knight of the Snows (1912) The Voyage of the Bourrichon Family (1912)

Related

Filmography Bibliography Georges Méliès in culture Le Grand Méliès (1952 documentary) The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007 book) Hugo (2011 film) Jehanne d'Alcy (wife) Gaston

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