Between 1896 and 1912, Georges Méliès directed over 500 films, and his work during this crucial period of early cinema has left an indelible legacy in the past century. Pioneering early narrative films and employing theatrical illusions, Méliès’ films are powerful examples of what seemingly “simple” technological achievement can accomplish. Films like “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) and “The Impossible Voyage” (1904) still command attention after all of these years because of the imagination and craft on display.
Now, researchers at the Czech national film archives have found two-minute 1904 silent film “Match de Prestidigitation” by Méliès thought to have been lost forever. In the film, a magician divides himself into two; the doubles then take turns performing magic before joining back together again.
“The reel was titled ‘Les Transmutations Imperceptibles,’ which is the name of another work by Méliès. But our specialist immediately realized it was another film,” archives spokeswoman Jana Ulipova told The Guardian. “Based on detailed analysis and research at the national library of France, among other places, we can say with certainty that it is ‘Match de Prestidigitation,’ up to now considered lost.”
Ulipova plans to screen the film as part of a collection of Méliès’ work in the near future. Watch “A Trip to the Moon” below.