Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reel People: Ben Kingsley is Georges Méliès

The film is Hugo, a historical fictional film based on the illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. The film is directed by Martin Scorsese, with a screenplay adapted by John Logan.

Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès was born in Paris on December 8, 1861. The third son of a cobbler. Instead of following the family craft, he initially chose to be stage magician, where he performed at the Theatre Robert-Houdin.

When Georges saw a demonstration of the Lumière brother's (Auguste and Louis Lumière) camera in 1895 he became interested in film for the ability of film to create a sense of illusion similar to what he did in magic.

In 1897 he created a film studio that created silent films that were similar to magical acts in terms of sets and performances. He created over 500 films of various lengths (many were short films a minute or two in length). The films of Méliès during this time are credited with inspiring many idea of special effects, science fiction, and even horror.

His most famous and celebrated film was the 1902 short film Le voyage dans la Lune (A Trip To The Moon) a fourteen minute film made in 1902 with a famous image of a space capsule in the eye of the moon.

In 1913 Georges studio was forced into bankruptcy due to larger studios coming to the forefront, and then bought by Pathé Frères (a film studio/distributor that continues to exist today after some ownership changes).

During WWI many of these films were seized and melted down into boots for French troops, while other film was melted down to create new film. Many films were lost forever.

Georges Méliès, with the financial assistance of some other film makers, became a toy salesman at Gare Montparnasse, a large rail station in Paris, France.

In 1928 Méliès married Jeanne d'Alcy, a french actress who had appeared in many of Méliès films (including Le Manoir du diable, Jeanne d'Arc, and Le Voyage dans la lune).

In his final days, Méliès was honored by later filmmakers for his contribution, including receiving the Légion d'honneur (Legion of honor) from Louis Lumière.

Méliès died in Paris on January 21, 1938.

Hugo

The film Hugo is historical fiction but the story of the film (and the book from which it's based The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick), tell the story of young children in the Paris train station who discover an automaton that connects them...one has the machine, the other the key to operate it, and it all leads to discovering how Méliès is connected to it all.

The two young children are played by Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz, as the fictional characters (Hugo & Isabelle). In addition to these fictional characters, other fictional stars of this film includes the star cast of Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frances de la Tour, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer and Richard Griffiths.

Helen McCrory plays the part of Mamma Jean (French actress, Jeanne d'Arc).

Unlike typical Marin Scorsese films, Hugo is based on a young adult story, with young adult stars, and will be released in 3D.

Will Ben Kingsley, the Oscar winning (4 time nominated) actor, receive another Oscar nomination or perhaps even a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

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