The Man With the Rubber Head (1901)
Director: Georges Méliès
Cast: Georges Méliès
Although Georges Méliès had begun producing ambitious films lasting more than 10 minutes as early as 1899, he still produced a huge volume of shorter trick movies which demonstrated the inventive Frenchman’s infectious sense of fun. The Man With the Rubber Head (L’homme a la tete en caoutchouc) shows Méliès at his most inventive in a simple little story filmed on a single stage. Méliès is some kind of scientist who looks like he’s finishing up for the day until he brings a table into his lab. He places a small table with a tube attached to it on top of the larger table and then produces a disembodied head from a bag. While this head is detached from its body, it’s nevertheless still alive and — well, not kicking, obviously, but still lively enough to look curiously at its new surroundings. Big Méliès — for the disembodied head is also played by the indefatigable wizard — hits on the great idea of using a giant bellows to push air through the tube under the small table on which little Méliès is perched with the effect that the head becomes inflated to gigantic proportions.
Well pleased with his work, even though the head is far from happy, Big Méliès relieves the pressure, allowing the head to deflate to its natural size. He then calls in his mate who, for some reason is dressed as a clown, and invites him to have a go at inflating little Méliès, which he does with just a little too much enthusiasm.
You don’t need to be a genius to figure out what’s going to happen once that clown gets his hands on the bellows, but that doesn’t stop The Man With the Rubber Head from being one of Méliès more amusing little movies.
(Reviewed 27th August 2014)