Méliès: Master of Advertising

Les affiches en goguette
R: Georges Méliès. P: Star-Film. Fr 1906

“Extremely witty in its play on both cinematic and theatrical trucs and on the foreground/background unmaskings so characteristic of French stage farce, Les affiches en goguette pushes the cinema of attractions to the point of reflexivity.  Its climatic attraction directly invites the spectator to join the poster people in thumbing their noses at the hapless authorities – through the revealing mirror image that erases any difference between what lies before and behind the screen.”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town. French Cinema 1896 – 1914. Updated and Expanded Edition. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1998, p. 161

“This short film shows advertising running rampant, commercialism run amok – even love, in the Parisiana poster, is offered à crédit. The fact that Méliès was the first in Europe, and the second in the world, to make filmed advertisements (1898), combined with the struggle to remain independent from bigger production companies, made him well aware of the immense power of commercial interests. (…) Les affiches en goguette shows representations going out of control, getting the better of the forces that would contain them (here, appropriately, police officers). If representations are only ‘pretending’ to be representations, if they are ‘really’ real, then, conversely, it is equally possible that real people and things are actually representations pretending to be real. By erasing the bar between signifier and signified, the characters in the ads risk ending up behind bars: it is up to the meaning police to replace and reinforce the barrier between signifier and signified, but their efforts backfire. When the set collapses to reveal an outdoor setting, we see reality exceeding representation (an effect that Méliès achieves by yielding to a more realistic  mode of representation).”
Elizabeth Ezra: George Méliès. Manchester University Press 2000, p. 60-61

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