Flicker Alley: Melies, First Wizard of Cinema in March

Continuing their compilation trend of early cinema, **Flicker Alley** has announced a March 11th release date for Georges Melies - First Wizard of Cinema (1896 - 1913). Fresh on the heels of Discovering Cinema & Saved from the Flames, Flicker Alley is really starting to crank things out with this 13 hour and 173 film collection. The 5-Disc DVD set will retail for $89.99, but is available at Classicflix.com for only $64.99. Details below.

Specialty DVD Supplier Flicker Alley Announces Unprecedented and Definitive, 5-Disc Set “GEORGES MÉLIÈS: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA"

A Thirteen Hour Collection of 173 Rare, Rediscovered, Original films, Plus Le Grand Méliès by Georges Franju, Makes Its Home Video Premiere on March 11th

(Los Angeles, CA) Flicker Alley, LLC, a specialty supplier of fine silent films and classic cinema programming, in association with Film Preservation Associates, today announced that the company will release “GEORGES MÉLIÈS: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1896-1913)” on DVD March 11, 2008. Film historian Georges Sadoul called Melies “the father of narrative cinema, and the first man in the world to decide consciously that he wanted to make films.” His seminal fantasy and science fiction films still retain the power to entertain and delight more than 100 years later. This collection marks the first occasion that this key filmmaker has received a major home video retrospective anywhere in the world.

The 5-disc DVD set, which will carry a suggested retail price of $89.95, includes Méliès’s first film, Partie de Cartes and his last, Voyage de la Famille Bourrichon, and brackets more than 170 others. Included are the celebrated and famous journey films, among them A Trip to the Moon, The Impossible Voyage, The Kingdom of Fairies, The Merry Frolics of Satan, The Palace of the Arabian Nights, and The Conquest of the Pole. Fifteen films are reproduced from partial or complete hand-colored original prints, thirteen are presented with the original English narrations written by Méliès. The duration of these films ranges from less than half a minute (The Misfortunes of an Explorer, 1900), to more than half an hour (Conquest of the North Pole, 1912). Also included is a filmed tribute, Le Grand Méliès (1953) by Georges Franju in its original English version, and a substantial booklet containing essays by filmmaker Norman McLaren and historian John Frazer.

This unparalleled collection, several years in the making and produced by Eric Lange and David Shepard, calls for a re-evaluation of the early years of cinema by scholars and historians, for it reveals Méliès to have been the most accomplished filmmaker in the world during that time. For example, his 1896 film The Nightmare has seven shots with exact matches on cuts, when Lumiere, Edison and Biograph films of that year were one shot each. By 1902, Méliès was making wondrous films such as Gulliver's Travels Among the Lilliputians, which are enormously entertaining even today.

The films were gathered from archives and collectors all over the world. Pictorial quality of most of the films is remarkably good; in addition, they have been digitally stabilized and cleaned as necessary. New music has been commissioned for all of the original Méliès films by some of the finest practitioners of silent film accompaniment, including Brian Benison, Eric Beheim, Frederick Hodges, Robert Israel, Neal Kurz, Alexander Rannie, Joseph Rinaudo, Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and Donald Sosin.

“GEORGES MÉLIÈS: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1896-1913)” is the third DVD title to be released under the Flicker Alley-Film Preservation Associates production and distribution agreement, following “DISCOVERING CINEMA”-- featuring documentaries on the birth of sound and color cinema -- released in September 2007, and “SAVED FROM THE FLAMES,” released January 22, 2008.

Blackhawk Films was founded in 1927 as a producer of film advertising for merchants and as a distributor of regional newsreels. In 1934, the company made its mark as a distributor of 16mm sound films, eventually establishing several regional offices before WWII. In 1947, the company moved into sales of used film and soon thereafter began distributing 8mm and 16mm prints of Laurel and Hardy silents from Hal Roach Studios, as well as titles from other key suppliers such as Fox Movietone News, Killiam Shows and National Telefilm Associates. Film historian and preservationist David Shepard joined Blackhawk in 1973 as Vice President and eventually acquired the Blackhawk Films library in 1987, when he founded Film Preservation Associates.
Under the Blackhawk Films Collection banner, Film Preservation Associates has produced over 150 high-quality restorations and presentations of silent films for the home video market, released through independent distributors such as Image Entertainment and Kino on Video. David Shepard has produced many notable titles, including “The Art of Buster Keaton,” a special edition DVD of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1925), the hand-colored silent version of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the 7-disc DVD “Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941,” hailed by the New York Times as “one of the major monuments of the DVD medium.”

Flicker Alley, LLC was founded in 2002 out of Jeffery Masino’s passion for silent films, his fascination with film preservation and a desire to bring filmmakers and films from this era to new audiences and renewed recognition. Each Flicker Alley project is the culmination of many hundreds of hours of research, digital restoration and music production. The company has partnered with Turner Classic Movies on several historic cable broadcast joint ventures, including three previously unavailable silent films produced by Howard Hughes, and three rarely viewed Rudolph Valentino films. Flicker Alley is currently preparing new digital editions of two rarely seen films by French master Abel Gance—J’Accuse (1919) and La Roue (1922), both making their Turner Classic Movies broadcast debut in Spring 2008.

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