Press releases

Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900 exhibition

22 June 2022

The ”la Caixa” Foundation, the Castello de la Plana City Council and the Port Authority open the show. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900


In collaboration with La Cinémathèque Française, the Castelló de la Plana City Council and the Port Authority, the ”la Caixa” Foundation exhibition delves into the contribution of Georges Méliès to the seventh art.

The French filmmaker was a cartoonist, magician, theater director, actor, decorator and technician, as well as producer, director and distributor of more than 500 films between 1896 and 1912. He reigned in the world of the fantasy genre and film trickery for almost twenty years , before falling into oblivion and economic ruin, which led him to destroy the negatives of all his films.

The exhibition can be seen in a new and innovative itinerant format that, in a space of 200 square meters, transports visitors to the environment of the early twentieth century to explain how the birth of cinema as a popular phenomenon took place.

The exhibition includes reproductions of apparatus, models, period objects and copies of photographs, as well as the projection of several films, with special attention to Le voyage dans la Lune (1900)

The show begins. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900. Dates: from June 23 to July 20, 2022. Place: Plaza de Sète, Castelló de la Plana. Organization and production: exhibition organized by the “laCaixa” Foundation, with the participation of La Cinémathèque Française. Curator: Sergi Martín, screenwriter and writer.


Castelló de la Plana, June 22, 2022. The mayor of Castelló de la Plana, Amparo Marco; the Councilor for Culture, Verónica Ruiz; the president of the Port Authority, Rafael Simó; the head of the “la Caixa” Foundation in the Valencian Community, Soraya Casado; and the curator, Sergi Martín, presented the show today. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900, an exhibition that explains the birth of cinema and pays homage to the man who has been considered the first illusionist in cinema.

The show begins. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900 arrives in Castelló de la Plana thanks to the collaboration between the City Council, the Port Authority and the ”la Caixa” Foundation. Within its cultural programming, the ”la Caixa” Foundation pays preferential attention to fundamental artistic manifestations in the formation of contemporary sensibility. Along these lines are the exhibitions devoted to cinema, which, along with photography, is the most characteristic art form of the 20th century. Thus, in recent years the entity has dedicated retrospective exhibitions to great names in the world of cinema, such as Charles Chaplin, Federico Fellini and Georges Méliès.


After organizing a major retrospective on the French filmmaker that could be seen in the last two years at the CaixaForum centers that the ”la Caixa” Foundation has throughout Spain, the entity is now presenting a new and innovative exhibition project, a journey back in time to take visitors back to the years when cinema became a popular spectacle, thanks largely to the inventions and techniques developed by Georges Méliès.


The son of a shoe entrepreneur, Méliès (1861-1938) was a cartoonist, magician, artifact maker, theater director, actor, decorator and technician, as well as a producer, director and distributor of more than 500 films between 1896 and 1912. He reigned in the world of the fantasy genre and film trickery for almost twenty years, and his contribution to the seventh art was fundamental: he introduced dreams, magic and fiction to cinema, when it was still in its infancy and was only a documentary.


Facing the documentary cinema of the Lumière brothers, Méliès’s founding act consisted in combining the universe of Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, with the cinematography of Marey, and also in giving a decided boost to the cinema as spectacle


As a special effects genius, Méliès applied magic tricks and the technique of the magic lantern to cinema: pyrotechnics, optical effects, horizontal and vertical drop-downs, camera stops, cross fades, superimpositions, montage and color effects, etc. It is as if this technical virtuoso had invented and used everything.


Méliès lived through a few golden years, of extraordinary popularity, culminating in the premiere, in 1902, of Le voyage dans la Lune (Journey to the Moon), a film that was seen by millions of spectators. Unfortunately, the expansion of the film industry and the appearance of large companies such as Pathé and Gaumont led Méliès to ruin and oblivion. In 1923, totally bankrupt, he destroyed the negatives of all his films and ended up selling toys in the Parisian Montparnasse station. The journalist Léon Druhot recognized him at the station.


A trip to the years when cinema became a popular show


The show begins. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900 transports visitors to a fair at the turn of the century, with its booths and party atmosphere. It was in that environment that cinema took shape as a show: fun and emotions. And, to a large extent, it was thanks to a man, Georges Méliès, who knew how to understand what people wanted and how to make them dream and distract themselves. His films marked the path followed by the first filmmakers, in Europe and in the United States.


The different spaces and exhibition resources of the exhibition discover what the world and leisure were like at that time, as well as the keys to understanding the importance of Georges Méliès. The exhibition includes several Méliès films —which are complemented by a selection of films by the Lumière brothers—, audiovisuals, copies of photographs from the period and reproductions of posters, drawings and a model of Méliès’s studio in Montreuil, some period objects , such as Houdin’s fantastic portfolio, and devices such as the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph.


The ”la Caixa” Foundation has produced several audiovisual pieces that help to understand the world of Méliès and his influence. Three audiovisuals stand out in which visitors will be able to listen to the opinion of renowned figures of current cinema on this subject, such as the directors Juan Antonio Bayona and Javier Ruiz Caldera, the screenwriter and director Oriol Capel, the set designer Ignasi Cristià, the film critic Desirée from Fez, the director of photography Óscar Faura, the actress Greta Fernández, the producer Enrique López Lavigne, the advertising director Fernando Mainguyague, the make-up and special effects specialist David Martí and the editor Jaume Martí.

The show begins. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900 is divided into three areas. The first presents us with the context of Georges Méliès, a first approach to the turn of the century and the main social, political and popular aspects of the world of 1900.

Once visitors have crossed the curtain, a second area introduces the world of Méliès and brings them closer to the actual cinematographic experience. The fair stands refer to the cinema of the turn of the century and to the importance of Georges Méliès in those first moments of the new show.

The last area is dedicated to Le voyage dans la Lune, the first film conceived, created and distributed to achieve success, in 1902. From here, it goes deeper into how cinema has changed since the time of Méliès and what has been the influence of this pioneer in the creation of the original cinematographic language and in the popular conception of cinema. His career is also explained, how he ended up running a toy store in Montparnasse and how he was rediscovered in 1926 and claimed to this day as one of the key figures in cinema.


The exhibition also includes “Participate Méliès”, an educational and participatory activity related to the exhibition, open to everyone – general public, family and school – and offering visitors the opportunity to demonstrate their ingenuity and creativity by drawing inspiration from the fantastic tricks from the inventor of special effects. All you need is a device that can record (camera, video, mobile or tablet) and use some of the tricks characteristic of Méliès’s cinema, such as substitution, superimposition or scale games. Some of the winning videos in the three previous editions of the contest are projected in the exhibition. All information is available at


The exhibition is curated by Sergi Martín, screenwriter and writer. Graduated in Cinematography and Audiovisuals, he is specialized in screenplay by ESCAC (University of Barcelona). He has worked on the development of various documentaries, communication campaigns and television programs in Spain and the United States. In addition to his audiovisual career, he has published social and historical outreach essays, and has taught literature and cinema at ESCAC.


An exclusive and innovative exhibition space

For exhibition display The show begins. Georges Méliès and the cinema of 1900, the “la Caixa” Foundation has designed a special and innovative space, the UD 100. This system converts the box of a container into an exhibition space of 100 free square meters and with a height in its part center of up to 5.5 meters. The developed system also allows joining more than one deployable unit to obtain a space that can include exhibitions of 200 square meters.

In this case, two 100-meter units take visitors to a 1900 fair, with its booths and party atmosphere, to discover the environment in which cinema took shape as a show, as well as the man who helped to it to a greater extent.

A sophisticated hydraulic self-leveling system controlled by means of a touch screen allows, in record time, two technicians to assume the tasks of deploying the UD 100 from the complete opening of the passenger compartment to its total settlement on the ground: one directs the movements and the other controls, confirms or aborts them in the face of any unforeseen event. The individualized ground anchoring system allows for unevenness of up to 4% to be corrected.

Special emphasis has been placed on the sustainability section, specifically on energy consumption, through double panels with an air chamber, a concept that is diametrically opposed to the usual canvas used in tents. The design of the roof, arranged in a triangular shape and with an adjustable hatch, facilitates the evacuation of the hot air accumulated in the upper area in a controlled way. Finally, a modern natural cooling system (free cooling) complements the optimization of energy to maintain the desired climate. For lighting, the UD uses the LED system in the format of low-consumption spotlights and recessed strips.

With this new space, the “laCaixa” Foundation disseminates cultural, scientific and social knowledge to a wider public. The purpose of these exhibitions, which travel through different towns and are installed in spaces provided by the municipalities, is to reach the maximum possible number of people.

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