NOTE: Because of this man's absolutely massive filmography, any information on his missing films should be put here. Nearly half of his 500+ films are still missing, many with very minimal information. This is to prevent hundreds of articles on his films, many of which would be very short and lacking information.Georges Méliès' missing movies describes a collection of over 200 missing short films by Georges Méliès.
French filmmaker Georges Méliès (1863-1938) was arguably the most important figure in early cinema. Starting out his career as a stage magician, he was introduced to motion pictures in 1895 by the Lumière Brothers during a showcase tour. He invested his time and money into constructing a film studio (possibly the first of its kind). Though he struggled financially at first, he went on to become one of the most successful and influential filmmakers of his time, producing, directing, writing, and starring in hundreds of short films.
Méliès was a special effects wizard. If he didn't invent a lot of camera and film techniques, he perfected or mastered them. He was also one of the first film makers to realize the potential of motion pictures to create fantasy worlds and tell fantastic stories (before George, movies for the most part were only used to document real life). His films have a very surreal, almost dream-like feel to them. Where other filmmakers of his time used special effects that look dated by today's standards, Méliès' films still stand today.
Sadly, Méliès fell out of popularity in the 1910s. After witnessing the horrors of the First World War, most audiences simply found his fanciful dream-like visions irrelevant and didn't bother paying money to see them. Georges went bankrupt. He had to shut down his studio and destroy most of his master negatives in order to sell the silver contained in the film to pay off his debts, thus creating a load of missing movies. It wouldn't be until close to Melies' death that the importance of perserving his films for their historical importance was realized.
Of the over 500 Méliès films, a grand total of 231 exist today. His films are some of the most commonly sought-after films of his era. To make matters worse, some films exist only in their black-and-white versions. Many of his color versions (which were hand-painted frame by frame and sold for higher prices then the black and white versions) are still gone. Every now and then, a film surfaces and gets remastered and cleaned up. One of the most recent discoveries from him is a color copy of his most treasured film A Trip to the Moon (1902). It was found in an abandoned barn, amazing many historians that it didn't ever catch on fire (as silver nitrate almost always does). Another notable film of his that has been discovered is The Devil's Castle (1896), which is, as far as is known, the first horror film ever made. The Christmas Dream (1900) is another recovered movie of his, and is one of the first Christmas movies ever made. New interest in his films has risen thanks to the 2007 novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and its 2011 film adaptaion, which offered a (highly fictionalized) view of his life.
UPDATE 4/18/15: A backup link to the colorized A Trip to the Moon is now available.