A Terrible Night

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A Terrible Night
Méliès, Une nuit terrible (Star Film 26, 1896).jpg
Scene from the common version of the film
Directed by Georges Méliès
Produced by Georges Méliès
Release date
  • 1896 (1896)
Running time
20 meters/65 feet[1]
Country France
Language Silent

A Terrible Night (French: Une nuit terrible) is an 1896 French silent comedy film by Georges Méliès. It was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 26 in its catalogues,[1] where it is listed with the descriptive subtitle scène comique.[2]


A man tries to go to sleep, but is disturbed by a giant bug climbing up the bed and onto the wall. He attacks the bug with a broom and disposes of it in a chamber pot in a compartment of his bedside table.


A Terrible Night predates Méliès's use of cinematic special effects in his films (the first known Méliès film with camera effects is The Vanishing Lady, made later in 1896). Rather, the giant bug is a simple pasteboard prop controlled with wire.[3]

The film was made with the Méliès-Reulos portable camera in the open air, in the garden of Méliès's home in Montreuil, using natural sunlight and a cloth backdrop.[3] Méliès himself played the man attempting to sleep.[2]


Frame from the film suspected to be the original A Terrible Night

A film commonly identified as A Terrible Night is known to survive[1] and has appeared on various DVD collections.[4][5] However, Méliès's great-great-granddaughter, Pauline Méliès, published findings in 2013 suggesting that the film commonly believed to be A Terrible Night is actually a later Méliès film, A Midnight Episode, numbered 190 in the Star Films catalogues, and that the original A Terrible Night—featuring simpler scenery and different camera placement, but the same plot and the same bed—survives in two print copies: a photocollage held by the Cinémathèque Française and a flipbook published by Lèon Beaulieu around the turn of the century. If this hypothesis is accurate, both A Terrible Night and A Midnight Episode survive.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Hammond, Paul (1974), Marvellous Méliès, London: Gordon Fraser, p. 135, ISBN 0900406380
  2. ^ a b Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 89, ISBN 9782732437323
  3. ^ a b Frazer, John (1979), Artificially Arranged Scenes: The Films of Georges Méliès, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., pp. 59–60, ISBN 0816183686
  4. ^ Méliès, Georges (2008), Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (DVD; short film collection), Los Angeles: Flicker Alley, ISBN 1893967352
  5. ^ Méliès, Georges (2011), Georges Méliès (DVD; short film collection), Issy-les-Moulineaux: StudioCanal
  6. ^ Méliès, Pauline (2013), "A-t-on retrouvé 15 secondes d'un film de Georges Méliès?", Georges Méliès site officiel, retrieved 30 December 2013

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