From the earliest days of cinema, there has been a close relationship between cinema and theatre. True, there was a tendency from the beginning to regard cinema as, par excellence, a realist medium. Lumière's short films of, say, a train entering the station at La Ciotat startled audiences into recognising the then unique power of cinema, which surpassed theatre in its ability not merely to represent but to record, and which surpassed photography by the addition of time, space and movement. Yet, at the same time as Lumière was photographing apparently unstaged events, another Frenchman, Méliès, saw cinema's potential as that of augmenting the marvels of theatre, or more particularly of the music hall. His aim was to outstrip the music-hall conjuror with the trompe-l'oeil trickery opened up by such cinematic techniques as editing. Rather than photographing everyday events, he would film his actors on such then fantastic exploits as a trip by rocket to the moon. Film studies, thanks to André Bazin, however, are inclined to question whether the seeming dichotomy between these kinds of cinema is valid. In Bazin's view, there is an essential realism in the medium of cinema which is as important in audience reception of the fantasy film as of the documentary. While Bazin's conception of cinema's essence has been repeatedly attacked by semioticians, for example, his questioning of the traditional Lumière/Méliès dichotomy remains valuable. If Méliès should be identified with what might loosely be termed a theatrical tendency in cinema, even Bazin's essentialism does not prevent the accommodation of both the theatrical and documentary tendencies under the heading of ‘true’ (for Bazin, realist) cinema. Moreover, it has been argued by Vardac 1 , for example, that nineteenth-century drama and staging were marked by a striving towards a union of romanticism and realism, by which the glamorous or spectacular-ideas of playwrights were to be rendered credible in performance. If this is so, cinema in its beginnings can be discerned as the fulfilment and extension of romantic — realist stage practice. Not only need there be no unbridgeable gulf between theatre and cinema, but Méliès' sort of cinema is thus born from the dreams and needs of dramatists and stage directors.