The Vanishing Lady

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The Vanishing Lady
Méliès, Escamotage d'une dame chez Robert-Houdin (Star Film 70, 1896).jpg
Directed by Georges Méliès
Produced by Georges Méliès
Release date
  • 1896 (1896)
Country France
Language Silent

The Vanishing Lady or The Conjuring of a Woman at the House of Robert Houdin (French: Escamotage d'une dame chez Robert-Houdin) is an 1896 French short silent trick film directed by Georges Méliès.


A magician walks onto a stage and brings out his assistant. He spreads a newspaper on the floor (thus demonstrating that no trap door is hidden there) and places a chair on top of it. He has his assistant sit in the chair, and spreads a blanket over her. When he removes the blanket, she has disappeared. He then waves his arms in the air and conjures up a skeleton. He places the blanket over the skeleton and removes it to reveal his assistant, alive and well.


Méliès himself is the magician in the film; his assistant is Jehanne d'Alcy.[1]

The film is based on a magic act developed by the French magician Buatier de Kolta. When the illusion was produced onstage, a trapdoor was used to create the appearances and disappearances; for the film, however, Méliès needed no trapdoor, using instead an editing technique called the substitution splice. The Vanishing Lady marks Méliès's first known use of the effect.[1]


The Vanishing Lady was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 70 in its catalogues.[2] Though the surviving print of the film is in black-and-white, hand-colored prints of Méliès's films were also sold; the Méliès expert Jacques Malthête reconstructed a hand-colored version of the film in 1979, using authentic materials.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Essai de reconstitution du catalogue français de la Star-Film; suivi d'une analyse catalographique des films de Georges Méliès recensés en France, Bois d'Arcy: Service des archives du film du Centre national de la cinématographie, 1981, p. 51, ISBN 2903053073, OCLC 10506429 
  2. ^ Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 337, ISBN 9782732437323 

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