Tunnelling the English Channel

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Tunneling the English Channel
Directed byGeorges Méliès
Release date
  • 1 July 1907 (1907-07-01)[1]
Running time
23 minutes
LanguageSilent film

Tunneling the English Channel (French: Le Tunnel sous la Manche ou le Cauchemar anglo-français) is a 1907 silent film by pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès.[2] The plot follows King Edward VII and President Armand Fallières dreaming of building a tunnel under the English Channel.


The idea of building a tunnel under the Channel was much discussed in 1907; Méliès's film is a highly topical take on the popular subject.[3] Méliès appears in the film as the engineer who presents the blueprints for the tunnel.[2] Fernande Albany, an actress who also appeared in Méliès's The Impossible Voyage, An Adventurous Automobile Trip, and The Conquest of the Pole, plays the leader of the Salvation Army parade.[4] King Edward was played by a wash-house attendant who closely resembled the monarch, reprising a role he had played five years before in Méliès's film The Coronation of Edward VII.[5] Special effects used in the film include stage machinery, pyrotechnics, substitution splices, superimpositions, and dissolves.[3]

Release and reception[edit]

Tunneling the English Channel was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 936–950 in its catalogues, where it was advertised as a fantaisie burlesque à grand spectacle en 30 tableaux.[2] For many of his longer films, Georges Méliès prepared a boniment, a spoken commentary explaining the action, to be read aloud while the film was shown; according to the recollections of Méliès's son André Méliès, the boniment for Tunneling the English Channel included dialogues between the French president and English king, with the latter speaking French in a thick English accent.[3] The composer Bétove (real name Michel Maurice Lévy, 1883–1965) recorded a piano score for the film in 1946.[3]

American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum named it as one of his 100 favorite films.[6] The academician Elizabeth Ezra called it "one of Méliès's wittiest and most engaging films."[7]


  1. ^ The World at War - FRANCE - La Belle Epoque - Part 3 - 1905 - 1909 1905
  2. ^ a b c Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 219, ISBN 9782732437323
  3. ^ a b c d 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, pp. 276–77, ISBN 2903053073, OCLC 10506429
  4. ^ Bertrand, Aude (2010), Georges Méliès et les professionnels de son temps (PDF), Université de Lyon, pp. 114–115, retrieved 13 February 2015
  5. ^ Ezra, Elizabeth (2000), Georges Méliès, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 66–67, ISBN 0719053951
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2004), Essential Cinema, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 408, ISBN 0-8018-7840-3
  7. ^ Ezra 2000, p. 136

External links[edit]