(The Four Troublesome Heads; Four Heads are Better Than One)
- Director: Georges Méliès
- Year: 1898
- Runtime: 1m
- Available on Wikipedia
Before there was Looney Tunes, there was George Méliès.
In this short, the audience is treated to a man cloning his head four times, placing three of them on the tables in front of him, then crushing two of them with a banjo when they can’t harmonise as well as he’d like them to.
This is the second of Méliès’ movies I’ve watched, and the cartoon violence he casually inflicts on himself in his films is pleasingly absurd. The big theatrical movements, ridiculous situations, and practical effects bring to mind Chaplain and Keaton.
To the modern eye, it’s easy to see his visual sleights of hand—the tables with the detached heads don’t quite line up; arms and banjos become white scribbled smears as they pass in front of the heads—but it still remains a delightful and surreal spectacle.
It’s not as visually ambitious or as The Astronomer’s Dream but it has its own peculiar charm and it’s inspiring to Méliès pushing the boundaries of this nascent medium with such style.
See more from my study of The History of Cinema.