A Lightning Sketch

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A Lightning Sketch
Directed by Georges Méliès
Release date
  • 1896 (1896)
Running time
20 meters/65 feet each[1]
Country France
Language Silent

A Lightning Sketch (French: Dessinateur) was a series of four 1896 French short silent films directed by Georges Méliès and released by his Star Film Company.[1] Each film showed an artist—very probably Méliès himself—drawing a caricature of a notable political figure in less than a minute.[2]

Three similar films were also made at about the same time, in August 1896, by the Anglo-American filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton, as a series called Blackton Sketches; Blackton would later make another film in the same vein, The Enchanted Drawing (1900).[2] Méliès returned to sketching on film in his 1903 short The Untamable Whiskers, in which the process of drawing comic faces on a blackboard was undercranked so as to seem to occur with great speed.[3] Numerous political caricatures by Méliès, presumably similar to those made in the A Lightning Sketch films, survive in the collection of the Centre national du cinéma.[2]

All four films in the A Lightning Sketch series are currently presumed lost.[2]


The following table provides the number assigned to each film in the Star Film Company catalogues; the original English and French titles; and the subject of the drawing made in each film.[4]

# English title French title Subject
37 A Lightning Sketch (Mr. Thiers) Dessinateur express (M. Thiers) Adolphe Thiers
57 A Lightning Sketch (Chamberlain) Dessinateur (Chamberlain) Joseph Chamberlain
61 A Lightning Sketch (H.M. Queen Victoria) Dessinateur (Reine Victoria) Queen Victoria
73 A Lightning Sketch (Von Bismarck) Dessinateur (Von Bismarck) Otto von Bismarck


  1. ^ a b Hammond, Paul (1974). Marvellous Méliès. London: Gordon Fraser. pp. 135–6. ISBN 0900406380. 
  2. ^ a b c d Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 50, ISBN 9782732437323 
  3. ^ Frazer, John (1979), Artificially Arranged Scenes: The Films of Georges Méliès, Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., p. 136, ISBN 0816183686 
  4. ^ Release data from Malthête & Mannoni 2008, pp. 336–7; subject identification from Malthête & Mannoni 2008, p. 50.

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