WEDNESDAY

As The Phantom Menace demonstrated at some length, the most high-tech special effects are not always the most magical. Two French directors two generations apart, Georges Melies and Chris Marker, conjured new worlds with very simple means. Tonight’s tribute to these inventive filmmakers begins with Le Grand Melies, in which the pioneering director—who fittingly began his career as a magician and ended up running a toy stand in the Montparnasse railway station—is played by his son, Andre. This biopic is followed by two of Melies’ short films, 1898’s The Astronomer’s Dream, one of his few works in color, and 1902’s Voyage to the Moon. The latter is probably the director’s best-known film—the image of a rocket stuck in the eye-like crater of the moon’s face has been seen by many who don’t even who Melies was. The program concludes with Marker’s La Jetee (pictured), which was made 60 years after Voyage to the Moon but shows a similar low-budget ingenuity. The film uses black-and-white stills to recount the story of a time traveler from a ruined future. Viewers who have seen only Terry Gilliam’s 1995 remake, 12 Monkeys, will surely be impressed by how economically yet evocatively Marker tells the same tale. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the Embassy of France’s La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Road NW. $5. (202) 944-6091. (Mark Jenkins)