Georges Melies: Going to Bed under Difficulties

The film pioneer Georges Méliès is credited for many things, most prominently, for making astounding films by the simple use of stopping the camera and changing what was on set, and for creating illusions that are still rather jaw-dropping just by exposing the film twice. He’d do this, incredibly, with a hand-cranked camera and simply turned the film back the correct number of cranks before filming the second round of whatever the stunt was. And you can’t even start writing anything about space travel in popular culture without referring to his 1902 A Trip To The Moon.

What he doesn’t get much credit for, despite the awe and wonder and dreamlike enchantment so many of his films inspire, is being funny, so I want to share a two-minute-long short from 1900: Déshabillage Impossible, or, Going To Bed With Difficulties. The premise is simple: the traveller wants to undress for bed. It’s quite simple, and funny in a way that doesn’t show a hundred-plus years of age.

Méliès did pretty much the same film again in 1900 — I believe later in the film, based on the Star Film numbers — to similarly good effect, although I don’t think it’s quite as good. Still, that take, Le Réveil D’un Monsieur Pressé or if you prefer How He Missed His Train, is also fun and only a minute long, so it isn’t asking much of you.


Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

3 thoughts on “Georges Melies: Going to Bed under Difficulties”

    1. How He Missed His Train has got the better conclusion — it’s got a conclusion, really, as opposed to just stopping — but I do find it interesting how Méli&egraves;s was clearly putting out as many pieces as he could in short order (I think he had to supply a film a week at this point), and so doing things like this pair of films.

      You can see a sound idea being repeated and refined while the trappings get changed, like looking at the different drafts a script might go through, with all these intermediate thoughts captured to film, with apparently different parts of the film given more attention.

      It does feel to me like for Going To Bed With Difficulties Méliès realized the more sets of clothes on-screen the funnier, and didn’t bother considering whether there needed to be any logical end point. (It’s imaginable, to me at least, that maybe there was some footage at the end lost which would’ve given a resolution, though.)


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