Méliès: His (Self-)Decapitations

Un homme de têtes
R: Georges Méliès. D: Georges Méliès. P: Star-Film. Fr 1898

“‘The Four Troublesome Heads’ (i.e. Un homme de têtes) is a nice intro to Méliès’s talent and goofy sense of humor. (…) He used substitution splicing, a.k.a. stop-substitutions a.k.a. stop-tricks, every time he takes off his ‘head’. This meant stopping the camera and placing a dummy head in his hands and what appears to be a dark cloth or bag over his real head. The multiple ‘heads’ were photographed using the wonders of the multiple exposure and split-screen techniques. Méliès had used substitution splicing earlier in The Vanishing Lady (1896) and the lost The Cabinet of Mephistopheles (1897), but this is his most elaborate use of the effect so far. Other filmmakers, at least George Albert Smith, had also tinkered with these kinds of effects, but Méliès was probably the most fascinated by their many possibilities. (…) Look at how the two on the left table start chatting with each other – this was very tough to do, since Méliès would’ve had to rewind the film several times to capture his different performances while remembering his exact expressions and movements in the previous few seconds. Remember, this was over two decades before performers such as Buster Keaton would try doing the same thing.”

L’homme à la tête de caoutchouc
R: Georges Méliès. D: Georges Méliès. P: Star-Film. Fr 1901