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Cinematicity in Media History$
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Jeffrey Geiger and Karin Littau

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676118

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.001.0001

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‘Never Has One Seen Reality Enveloped in Such a Phantasmagoria’: Watching Spectacular Transformations, 1860–89

‘Never Has One Seen Reality Enveloped in Such a Phantasmagoria’: Watching Spectacular Transformations, 1860–89

Chapter:
(p.35) Chapter 2 ‘Never Has One Seen Reality Enveloped in Such a Phantasmagoria’: Watching Spectacular Transformations, 1860–89
Source:
Cinematicity in Media History
Author(s):

Kristian Moen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.003.0003

This chapter, written by Kristian Moen, explores the nineteenth-century French ‘transformation views’ of the féerie. Moen situates Georges Méliès’s work within this tradition of the féerie, thus illustrating how through the use of elaborate spectacles cinema and theatre are entwined. Like its theatrical counterpart, the cinematic féerie is no less concerned with the trickery of ‘transformation’. As Moen explains, such transformations come in a variety of guises: bodies, objects and settings transmorph, as if to indicate that the world itself is ‘a place of mutability’, is in flux. Whether in the form of theatrical plays, luminous fountain displays at the Universal Exposition in Paris, or the kaleidoscope, the so-called transformation view of the féerie (used by Méliès as a term to categorize cinema itself) creates ‘a vision of instability’ which must be understood within the larger context of modernity’s impact on visual perception.

Keywords:   Paris Universal Exposition, Nineteenth-century, French Theatre, Transformation views, Fountain displays, Pre-cinema, Spectacle, Film and Theatre

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