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l'histoire de Georges.

the story of Georges.

one of the greatest magicians of his time
one of the greatest pioneers of cinema, father of cinematographic shows and special effects

Georges Méliès was born in Paris on December 8, 1861 in a wealthy bourgeois family, third among 2 older brothers. Georges was destined, like his brothers, to take over the torch of the family shoes factory. But, very young, Georges is already curious, sensitive, imaginative, talented for drawing and especially rebel. At 18 years old, his final exam passes after eight years of boarding school at the Imperial lycée of Vanves and then at Lycée Louis le Grand, he wants to integrate the beaux-arts de Paris.
His father says him no... And everything follows …
He leaves for his military service in Blois, homeland of the Great magician Robert-Houdin (from whom Houdini took his name).
In 1884 he was sent to London to take him away from a romantic affair: he discovers the magic of the scene, another romantic affair whose father had not suspected the consequences.

heir to Robert-Houdin

In London, at the Egyptian Hall, he hangs out the greatest magicians of the time: Maskelyne, David Devant,...  He learns scene Magic with his great illusions, intricate tangle of double-bottomed traps and truncated perspectives. He has also many relationships in the art world.
In 1885, he returns to Paris, married and performes as an illusionist.
In 1888, his father retires.
Georges leaves the shoe factory to his brothers and at 26 years old takes over the lease and the background of the Robert-Houdin theatre, which he will lead for more than 20 years.

Thanks to his imagination, his drawing talents, his manual mechanical knowledge acquired at his father's factory, he creates and manufactures many illusions, often ending with the projection of photographic views.
In 1891, he founded the Académie de Prestidigitation, which would become in 1904, the French trade union Chamber of Prestidigitation, to assist the Illusionists considered as entertainers.
Between 1888 and 1895, Méliès keeps abreast of abundant news from the world of photography in France, Europe and the United States.

When Antoine Lumière, in December 1895, father of Louis and Auguste, a photographer he knows well, invites him to a public representation of their invention (Lumière cinematograph) at the Grand Café, Méliès is ready: He has already in himself the knowledge and imagination to understand the great tool that he discovers that night. His personal fortune and his theatre will enable him to realize all his ideas.

the creator of the film show and special effects.

Méliès wants to buy the camera of the Lumière brothers immediately but Antoine does not want to sell. No future, he would have said for this invention. He then leaves for London to buy William Paul his invention, the Animatographe, which he adapted and transformed into Kinetograph, his first camera of shooting.

Méliès immediately goes on to launch, as of april 1896, on simple subjects: the street, the sea, the family... He put his mark on the Black Star: the "star film" and produced his first films for his theater "The Retraction of a lady at Robert-Houdin".
Very soon Méliès discovered his first tricks and invented the “cinema spectacle” conceived as numbers of shows of illusions.
From 1897, the changes of light during the day and the weather led him to build the first film studio in his property of Montreuil.

From 1897 to 1912, Méliès realizes almost 520 films that are both poetic, fantastic, humorous, the first reports, the first historical or political films, the first advertisements...
He imagines scenarios, he creates new technical processes, he develops the stop trick, multiple exposure, time-laps, dissolves, fades, split screens, dolly shots,… the use of caches and models. He invents and exercises all the professions of cinema and applies to his films methods and processes of shows of Robert-Houdin Theater which are today the fundamental of cinema.

facing the film industry

An Artisan using his own financial resources, he finds himself very soon faced with a double challenge: competition from new comedic or realistic genres that appeal to the public and the industrialization of cinema on both sides of the Atlantic.

Gaumont and Pathé moved into the film landscape. Pathé controls 50% of the distribution in Europe and America. The films are no longer sold but are now rented to the meter regardless of the cost of production. Eastman controls the price of film, Rockefeller supports Edison and bank Morgan shoulders the Biograph.
The films of Méliès are victims of plagiarism especially his greatest success “ A trip to the Moon” (1902) that is why Georges sends his brother Gaston from 1902 in New York to defend his interests and founded the ' Geo Méliès Star films manufacturing '. The diffusion of his films in the USA and those of his brother Gaston assures him still some income but his financial situation becomes critical.
In 1913 he turned his last film which did not meet the expected success. He closes his two studios.

his life after the cinema

In 1914, due to war, the Robert-Houdin Theater closes its doors.
He then turns the studio ' B ' of Montreuil into a variety theater. He interprets, with his children (Georgette and André) and many artists more than 100 different roles between 1917 and 1922.
In 1923, he sells his property of Montreuil, all his films were destroyed or sold.
He remarried in 1925 with Jehanne d’Alcy, a former artist of the Robert-Houdin Theater. She is the manager of a toys store at the Gare Montparnasse. In order to survive, Méliès must accept the trade of toy sellers and sweets, 14 hours a day and 7 days a week.

And the world of cinema forgets him... Until 1929, when journalists rediscovere him and organize a gala in his honour in Salle Pleyel. In 1931, Georges Méliès receives the Legion of Honour from the hands of Louis Lumière at the Claridge at a banquet of 800 covered.
He will end his days from 1932 to 1938 with his wife and grand daughter, Madeleine, of which he is responsible, at the Orly Castle, new place of retirement of the mutual of cinema, which he is the first and only resident.

He dies in Paris on 21 January 1938 and was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.



The missions of The Georges Méliès project are to:


  • Make the life, work and state of mind of Georges Méliès known to the widest possible audience worldwide with appropriate, varied and accessible content

  • Create our own programs, cultural projects in collaboration with partners.

  • Support, collaborate and exchange with project leaders working on Georges Méliès


  • Gather, collect, centralize and share all information on Georges Méliès and all contemporaries who worked around him


  • Buy, restore, produce and distribute Georges Méliès films as well as objects or books related to their work



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#5 crowdfunding

nouveau crowdfunding

new project with a new crowdfunding on Kickstarter website: rediscovered & intimate family testimonies


#4 grave

Père Lachaise

42 500€ collected on 2019 to restore the grave of Méliès in the Père Lachaise cemetery and 12 years of  maintenance


# 3 products

Méliès collection

products made in 2019 for the crowdfunding around the restoration of the grave


#2 partnerships

melting pot

interviews, conferences, TV shows, opening, festival, ...

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#1 Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorsese's movie

DVD bonus participation for the movie Hugo Cabret launched in 2011

à propos.
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about us.

The Georges Méliès project is hold by a part of the direct descendants of Georges Méliès. Georges had two children, a girl Georgette and thirteen years later, a boy Andre. We are the descendants of Andre: his grandson Pascal and his great grand daughter Pauline.


“Georges is the grand father of my grand mother. We talk to Georges as a mischievous and bubbly uncle we’ve never met. It’s not like he died 46 years before I was born. I feel very close to him, to his life, to his universe, to his way to think and create. I love him deeply.
I started to see his movies when I was a little girl. I don’t even remember the first time.
I’m the fourth generation in the family to promote and defend his work. It’s a very hard job.
For living, I’m a cultural advisor. This project is just the beginning, I want to do more for Georges. I want him to be part of the 21st century and more people around the world share his poetry, his freshness and his endless love for creation.” 

                                                                             Pauline Méliès, great great grand daughter of Georges Méliès.


help us.

  • make a donation * to our association to support our action:

Georges Méliès' Children asbl (Belgium)

KBC Bank

IBAN: BE35 7360 5669 3837

* not tax deductible

  • collaborate for a cultural project around Georges Méliès whether you are an artist, a school, a university, a collective, a town hall or a theater company

  • give us movies, photos, posters, books, articles; .... on Georges Méliès to feed our collection

nous aider.


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