Born On This Date: Cinema's Greatest Magician George Méliès

George Méliès, born on this date in 1861, brought dreams and magic to the cinema, where they have remained ever since in varying quantities. A stage magician by trade who owned his own theater and obsessively tinkered with his illusions, Méliès immediately saw the advantages that the young medium of moving pictures offered. He built a camera and projector and equipped his theater for exhibition. Soon he was making his own short films, often built around magic tricks. He was an obsessive tinkerer who took great joy in developing optical illusions. Most film special effects that followed owe something to Méliès' methods and his films still have the capacity to entertain and delight.

Here is Méliès' MERRY FROLICS OF SATAN, still an impressive compendium of all kinds of special effects and starring Méliès himself as Mephistopheles, naturally.