Magnificent Méliès

The Authorized Biography
Madeleine Malthête-Méliès, translated by Kel Pero, edited by Matthew Solomon
Biography of pioneer early filmmaker Georges Méliès, now in English


Watch the recording of the book launch and Méliès film screening on YouTube!
The films of Georges Méliès (1861–1938) are landmarks in the early history of narrative filmmaking and cinematic special effects. He was a harbinger of modern aesthetics and media manipulation, and this book, written by his granddaughter, is the only one that tells his full story. Magnificent Méliès is a thoroughly researched but highly accessible book that is a crucial source for the scholar and an entertaining read for the nonspecialist. The core of the biography provides detailed accounts of Méliès’ filmmaking years (1896–1913), from his first motion pictures shortly after the public premiere of the Lumière Cinématographe through such worldwide successes as his film Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) and his eventual marginalization by the very industry he had helped to found. The biography also chronicles Méliès’ formative work as director of Paris’s preeminent magic theater, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin; his subsequent career staging operettas for the Théâtre des Variétés Artistiques  (1917–1923) in Montreuil on the site of one of his former film studios; and his later years selling toys and candy at the Gare Montparnasse (1926–1932) before being rediscovered by journalists and the avant-garde. These and other fascinating chapters highlight the remarkable range of Méliès’ creative work while suggesting how his singular life was nevertheless shaped by the seismic historical shifts of Second Empire and Third Republic France.
Madeleine Malthête-Méliès was a pioneering early film researcher and historian of early cinema; she was the granddaughter of Georges Méliès.

Kel Pero is an editor, writer, and translator.

Matthew Solomon is Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Media at the University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • “This book is indeed a very personal tribute to the life and creative contributions of Georges Méliès and especially his legacy in cinema. While celebrating the life and times of Méliès from an insider’s perspective, the biography nonetheless reveals many insights on the economics, creative choices, and cultural contexts for early cinema and the trajectory of Georges Méliès. It should appeal to fans of Méliès, early cinema, and turn-of-the-century France.”
    —Richard Neupert, University of Georgia

News, Reviews, Interviews

Watch: Interview with Madeleine Malthête-Méliès 
Watch: Recording of Book Launch with Méliès Film Screening

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 402pp.
  • 59 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13258-4

Add to Cart
  • $90.00 U.S.



  • Méliès, early film, film history, magic, magician, special effects, French cinema, biography, France, Paris, film, cinema, film pioneer, film studio, trick film, trick cinematography, short film, theater, Belle Epoque, fin-de-siècle