One of the greatest of black art pictures. The conjurer appears before the audience, with his head in its proper place. He then removes his head, and throwing it in the air, it appears on ... See full summary »
A bat flies into an ancient castle and transforms itself into Mephistopheles himself. Producing a cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a young girl and various supernatural creatures, one ... See full summary »
A man comes onto the stage through the fireplace, divides himself, and sits on stools on either side of a table. He places a woman's head on the table and a hat on her head. She speaks to ... See full summary »
"In the opening of this film is seen the astronomer intently poring over his books. Suddenly, in a cloud of smoke, Satan appears and surprises the astronomer. At the command of the Fairy ... See full summary »
A man sleeps fitfully then dreams that a lovely woman is sitting at the foot of his bed. He reaches to embrace her and she becomes a minstrel, then Pierrot. The clown gestures to the moon ... See full summary »
In this subject a "comique eccentric" enters the drawing room inhabited by spirits. He tries to take off his coat and hat, but these garments return to his head and shoulders as soon as he ... See full summary »
A devil wearing bat-like wings and brandishing a trident dances around a giant pot, conjuring forth flame from his trident to lit a fire beneath the pot. After the devil works the fire with bellows, an angelic woman emerges from the pot. The devil and the pot vanish as the woman performs a dance, waving about her diaphanous sleeves until she conjures forth another fire, then she rises amongst the smoke into the air. Written by
This brief shot-scene film by early cinema pioneer Georges Méliès doesn't really have anything to do with Haggard's "She", an association made probably just because they both feature the pillar of fire. To me, however, it does build upon a cinematic tradition, taken from the stage, of serpentine dances and the early film genre of dance films in general. Löie Fuller invented the Serpentine Dance on stage. Her skirt waving was accompanied by color transformations created by the lighting effects reflecting upon the fabric. For film, beginning at the Edison Company, hand-coloring the negatives became the substitute for this lighting effect, as seen in the Annabelle dance films. Thereafter, nearly every studio and filmmaker in the early days had made a serpentine dance, probably including a straightforward one or more by Méliès.
Méliès adds to this staple of early cinema his common device of a devil to be the director's surrogate as on-screen magician. Out of a cauldron, he conjures a woman who begins performing the serpentine dance. Her dance then becomes the fluttering and flaming of the pillar of fire. Fortunately, the print available today is wonderfully hand-colored, adding to the comparably beautiful colored serpentine dances made by the Edison and Lumiére companies, as well as some others. What this one also has is quite a bit of leg shown by the dancer for early cinema standards, as she lifts her dress up. It also has the typical magic effects of Méliès, and he thankfully doesn't overdo it with too many trick effects. This is how you would hope Méliès would've approached the dance, and he dida sublime synthesis of two early cinematic directions.
(See "Annabelle Serpentine Dance" (1895) and "Danse serpentine" (1897/II) for comparison.)
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