Deservedly regarded as one of Georges Méliès’ supreme masterpieces, The Man with the Rubber Head represented one of his most significant technical advances since the not dissimilar The Four Troublesome Heads (Un Homme de têtes, 1898). That film featured a protagonist, played by Méliès himself, apparently detaching multiple versions of his own head, the effect achieved by a combination of mattes and superimpositions. Much the same is true of The Man with the Rubber Head, with an important difference: the head now seems to expand and contract.
Méliès achieves this by a simple trompe l’oeil effect: the background remains static throughout, but the superimposed element (Méliès’ own head) is filmed with a camera that is moving towards and away from it. Because the background fools us into thinking that the film has been shot entirely from a fixed camera position (as are the vast majority of Méliès’ films), the illusion is instantly convincing. Like all experienced stage performers, Méliès knew that a single head-inflation wouldn’t be enough – so he contrives to include two, the second culminating in an head-explosion that predates David Cronenberg’s Scanners by some eighty years.—Filmjournal.net
Georges Méliès (December 8, 1861 – January 21, 1938), full name Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects. He accidentally discovered the stop trick, or substitution, in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the “Cinemagician.”
Méliès was born in Paris, where his family manufactured shoes. He had two older brothers, Henri and Gaston. Before making films, he was a stage magician at the Theatre Robert-Houdin. In 1895, he became interested in film after seeing a demonstration of the Lumière brothers’ camera. In 1897, he established a studio on a rooftop property in Montreuil. Actors performed in front of a painted… read more