From its earliest days, cinema has borrowed heavily from the world of magic. Illusion, after all, is part of the moviegoing experience — the phrase "the magic of movies" is both literally and figuratively true.
This week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will explore cinematic feats of prestidigitation. "Like Magic" will investigate movies' roots in historical stage magic and sleight of hand from the early fanciful "trick" films of pioneers such Georges Méliès to computer-generated visual effects. The event takes place Wednesday evening at the academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Actor, magician and historian
Using clips from such movies as Méliès' "The Magician" (1898), Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" (1946),
Joining them on the panel will be Shane Mahan, who has created, coordinated or supervised special effects for films such as 1993's
"One thing many people aren't aware of is that quite a few magicians were actually involved in the development of the film camera and in optical devices, like France's Méliès, who was a noted stage illusionist before he began making films in 1896, including the remarkable 1902 "A Trip to the Moon," Jay said.
Several magicians were featured in these silent films, including the escape artist
Besides Méliès, one of the most influential filmmakers was Cocteau, the inventive French playwright and screenwriter. He utilized camera tricks, evocative sounds, music, costumes and makeup to bring the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" to life.
The late critic
"He will use whatever he needs to use and make it look the best he can," Mahan said. "He has a great eye for all of that. He enjoys both mediums. There are still artists like
Where: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Cost: $3 and $5