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 ...
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J. Searle Dawley
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
In many, many ways, this film is like Georges Méliès' triumph from almost a decade earlier--"Voyage Dans le Lune". In fact, if you didn't know they were made 9 year apart, you would have sworn that they were made at the same time. While I enjoyed the film a lot, the similarity in style is an indicator why this wonderful filmmaker soon fell out of favor--he was using techniques that had just become passé. Crowds were looking for something new. But the only really new aspect of "The Conquest of the Pole" is that it is very, very lengthy for a Méliès product--at 33 minutes (which was pretty long for 1912).
The movie begins with a bizarre scientific meeting. The leading minds from all over the world are meeting to discuss how to go to the pole. Some want to take cars, some want balloons and others want flying contraptions. It's funny because they folks mostly just argue (like they did in "Voyage Dans le Lune"), some of the folks there seem way out of place (such as the Mexican banditos) and it only gets worse when the comic relief arrives in the form of obnoxious suffragettes. The director was obviously making a statement about women's rights here and portrays their leader as a total jerk.
Soon the various expeditions begin and soon most of them result in killing these people. However, although they'd only talked about building the one flying machine, the sky is filled with hundreds or more! Now you'd think this would be a pretty straight-forward flight but it looks like his moon movie once again--and the flying machine is whizzing past stars, planets and comets--all being held in the air by beautiful women.
The arrival gets weird, as they soon see a giant--and the giant is a very funny piece of equipment. You really have to see it and the ending to believe them.
The bottom line is that this film, quality-wise, is little improvement over Méliès' early films BUT it does have a certain quaint charm. You can't help laugh at many of the situations (especially when the giant eats a member of the expedition) and it's a cute window into a bygone era. Amazing to look at and a bit silly as well. This is among the filmmaker's last films--and is a nice window into what he was doing before he stopped making films entirely the following year.
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