Before the Nickelodeon & More Melies in April

More early cinema has been announced by **Kino** for release on April 22nd. The DVD's are: Before the Nickelodeon - The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter & The Magic of Melies. Before the Nickelodeon is a 1982 documentary narrated by silent-movie actress Blanche Sweet that has three additional shorts. The Magic of Melies is a good compilation set of previously released shorts, but doesn't hold a candle to the exhaustive and just streeted Georges Melies - First Wizard of Cinema from Flicker Alley. Each single disc release will retail for $24.95, but can be purchased here at for only $17.99. Details below.

Before the Nickelodeon - The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
Noted film historian Charles Musser (The Emergence of Cinema) co-wrote and directed this definitive tribute to Edwin S. Porter, Thomas Edison’s mechanic and cameraman. From the time of his hugely successful The Great Train Robbery (1903) until Griffith started at Biograph (1908), Porter held center stage in early American cinema. Sadly, however, Edison quickly discarded Porter once his approach to filmmaking seemed to have become old-fashioned.

Narrated by silent-movie actress Blanche Sweet, Before the Nickelodeon is a treasure trove of rarely seen material, including hand-colored photographs and sixteen complete Porter films, among them The May Irwin Kiss (1896), The Sunken Battleship ‘Maine’ (1898), Jack and the Beanstalk (1902) and Life of an American Fireman (1902-3).

Three additional Porter shorts / Music composed and performed by Ben Model:
  • Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1902)
  • Waiting at the Church (1906)
  • Life of a Cowboy (1906)
The Magic of Melies
Fifteen Fantastic Works by the Cinema’s First Special Effects Wizard, including the documentary Georges Méliès: Cinema Magician. Decades before the term “special effects” was coined, audiences of the newborn cinema were witnessing spectacular screen illusions, courtesy of the medium’s first master magician: Georges Méliès.

Such films as The Eclipse (1907) and Long Distance Wireless Photograph (1908) not only demonstrate Méliès’s astounding employment of double exposure, makeup, editing and theatrical trickery but provide mesmerizing insight into the social context of his work, which blended Victorian approaches to astronomy, superstition and feminine beauty with the unnatural wonders of 20th-century technology and heavy doses of slapstick. The centerpiece of the collection is The Impossible Voyage (1904), presented with the authentic frame-by-frame hand-coloring and narration penned by Méliès himself.

In addition to the aforementioned short films, this Kino DVD also brings the 20-minute documentary Georges Méliès: Cinema Magician directed by Patrick Montgomery and Luciano Martinengo.

Music Composed and Performed by Alexander Rannie

List of Short Films include:
  • The Impossible Voyage (1904)
  • The Untamable Whiskers (1904)
  • The Cook in Trouble (1904)
  • Tchin-Chao, The Chinese Conjurer (1904)
  • The Wonderful Living Fan (1904)
  • The Mermaid (1904)
  • The Living Playing Cards (1905)
  • The Black Imp (1905)
  • The Enchanted Sedan Chair (1905)
  • The Scheming Gamblers Paradise (1905)
  • The Hilarious Posters (1906)
  • The Mysterious Retort (1906)
  • The Eclipse (1907)
  • Good Glue Sticks (1907)
  • Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908)


Kino International is proud to release two unprecedented DVDs collecting seminal and in some cases, previously unreleased works, from two masters of the silent cinema era: Edwin S. Porter, the director of The Great Train Robbery, and Georges Méliès, the first special effects maven in the history of world cinema.

Both DVDs come with an SRP of $24.95 (each) and a prebook date of March 25. Their street date is April 22.

The first DVD, BEFORE THE NICKELODEON: THE EARLY CINEMA OF EDWIN S. PORTER, brings a 60-minute documentary co-written and directed by film scholar and Yale Professor Charles Musser, who also wrote the extensive historical notes included in Kino’s landmark 4-DVD collection Edison: The Invention of the Movies.

This definitive tribute to Edwin S. Porter, Thomas Edison’s mechanic and cameraman, explains how Porter became the first U.S. filmmaker to successfully make films with continuous action from shot to shot, instead of following the formula of single-scene films common at the time. Moreover, Charles Musser’s documentary highlights the biographical keystones of this movie industry pioneer while also illuminating the foundational steps of the very structure of North American narrative cinema.

Additionally, BEFORE THE NICKELODEON brings three previously unavailable (on DVD) Porter shorts: “Waiting at the Church” (1906), “Life of a Cowboy” (1906) and “Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show” (1902). All three shorts feature music composed and performed by acclaimed silent film musician Ben Model.

The second DVD from this series, THE MAGIC OF MÉLIÈS, also collects in one DVD an illuminating short documentary with 15 exclusive films directed by Méliès himself.

Focusing on the filmmaker’s life and integrating rare photographs, early drawings and numerous clips from his most admired works, GEORGES MÉLIÈS: CINEMA MAGICIAN charts Méliès’ rise from shoe factory worker to proprietor of Paris’s mystical Theatre Robert-Houdin, where he learned the skills to become a cinematic illusionist and developed an interest in the supernatural – exquisitely represented in films like The Mysterious Retort (1906) and The Black Imp (1905).

1 comment:

  1. David, there's a posting on my blog about scoring these shorts, specifically the challenges of working on Life of a Cowboy.

    Ben Model
    silent film accompanist