This is one of those odd occasions where i was massively affected by something when a child - but never actually saw it until and adult. Back in the 70's, one of the constant staples in the huge amount of books put out of the subject of horror or Sf films (usually by Denis Gifford)were stills from the films of Georges Melies. I'd already been growing up on a diet of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin films and part of the appeal, other than the comedy, was the rather disturbing feel to the silent one's - the B&W photography, the sets, the very scratched prints and the strange, strange support casts (typified by Eric Campbell in the Chaplin films) went towards giving the shorts an unsettling feeling of menace throughout. So i was used to that. But these still? Well, i'd never seen anything like them. Far, far more distburing than anything i'd seen up to that point, with incredible ideas making for incredible, iconic imagery. Boy, i was fascinated. When i finally got round to seeing them, they still had that sense of menace wrapped up into the fantasy and they hold up brilliantly well today - something you can't say for CGI films made only a few yaers ago.
Georges Melies is rightly acknowldged now as not only a pioneer of special effects, he was the first to use so many of the techniques still in use today, but also for pushing the boundries of film making - realising before many others that scenes could be edited together to create a story.
Was so pleased to finally see him and his films up there on the Big Screen in the excellent "Hugo" but, if you're a fan, i urge you to track down the compliation DVD of his works on the Arte Video label, which is just stunning.