Georges Melies

IntroLostFilms

Before the days when the Internet immortalized everything from historical milestones to sleeping cat farts there was once a chance for moments to actually pass by completely unrepeated. While that did have its charm, the major downfall was that art had a way of being lost to time. In the case of this list – film art that we’re going to have to live without. Here are some of the most important films that are unfortunately never going to see the light of modern day.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Why Watch? Because it’s the first science fiction film ever made. Co-writing with his brother Gaston, Georges Méliès produced, directed, and starred in this enduringly brilliant short that features clever innovations in special effects and a unique style created by blending live-action with a very specific type of animation. Most know that it was the inspiration for the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” music video (and my stalker knows it as the inspiration for one of my tattoos), but the most fascinating fact outside the film itself is that it was one of the earliest victims of film piracy. Méliès had already been making short films for years before A Trip to the Moon, and he saw the United States as a ticket to monetary success that would be cashed by this popular, science fiction dream. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison had his cronies make copies of the film in order to play it around the country – severely injuring Méliès’s ability to make money from his own work. The story and the story of Méliès’s life don’t have happy endings. Clearly, stealing movies is just as old as movies themselves. What does it cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Check out A Trip to the Moon for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because a lot can happen when you’re asleep. Yesterday’s short certainly borrowed from the pioneering artistic style of Georges Méliès, and they make a good double feature (considering they take under six minute to watch together). Méliès is most famous for A Trip to the Moon, but he made this ethereal short 6 years earlier, acting as director, producer, production designer, and editor. Considering that it’s over 100 years old, it’s pretty damned entertaining – even though it probably earned a “WTF” rating even back in the 19th century. His trippy genius comes to life here in its purest form – through a dream. Now just imagine what he could do with the technology of today. What does it cost? Just 1 minute of your time. Check out The Nightmare for yourself:

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When I thought more and more about it, I realized that Scorsese is one director that doesn’t need 3D to add depth to his visuals.

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culturewarrior-pixar

Now that everyone and their talking dog has seen Up, it’s time to look at its context within film history and in the legacy of Pixar.

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