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Scientists from all over the world are meeting to discuss the best way to reach the North Pole. Professor Maboul demonstrates for them the innovative equipment that he has designed for the purpose. When everything is ready, Maboul and several other scientists depart for the pole. Their trip will prove to be even more eventful than expected. Written by
The great French innovator finally seems to be running out of imagination here. Having invented cinema as we understand it today, he eventually had to exhaust his fount of inspiration.
This film could best be described as a remake of his "Voyage to the Moon" from 1902. Unfortunately much of the old vim is missing. Sequences run on for too long. At times the film seems more primitive than many of his earlier films.
Still, there was life in the old boy yet. The « géant des neiges » (giant of the snows) episode is quite good with a monster who swallows intrepid Arctic explorers whole. The ice giant is about as good an effect as Fafner the dragon in Fritz Lang's "Siegfried", and that film was made in 1924. There is a funny moment when the explorers reach the Earth's Magnetic Pole. They are attracted right onto the needle they find and get stuck there.
The long (too long) scene where the explorers in their airship fly past the signs of the zodiac reminded me strangely of what Dorothy sees from her window as she is caught in the tornado in "The Wizard of Oz". That would make Méliès nearly 30 years ahead of his time.
Nevertheless, I got the same impression I get with a lot of modern special effects films. Méliès was spending more money without necessarily expending more ingenuity. Perhaps he was only trying to imitate the lesser but more successful mortals who came after him.
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