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Based loosely on the Washington Irving story and older legends: Easygoing Rip Van Winkle enjoys nothing better than relaxing at the inn with his friends. But finding himself one day in difficulties with the authorities, he flees to the nearby mountains, pursued by soldiers and townspeople. Later, exhausted by the chase, he falls into a deep sleep and has a dream. In the dream, he is met by a mountain spirit, who transforms himself into a huge snake, and then into three more spirits. After that, Rip is confronted by a gathering of apparitions, who tell him that he must sleep for 20 years. Written by
This Georges Méliès adaptation of the legend of Rip Van Winkle is certainly interesting, if not always successful. It is a relatively lavish production for its time, with detailed sets and hand-tinted color in the final print. It changes the story considerably in order to allow for some of Méliès's special camera effects, yet there are several stretches of the movie in which the camera tricks take a back seat to slapstick or exposition.
While it keeps the basic character and some of the story developments of the tale as it is usually told (from Washington Irving and earlier legends such as Peter Klaus), it also changes quite a bit. Rip's domineering wife is replaced by other problems, and the dream that Méliès imagines for him takes center stage.
There are certainly many Méliès touches, in the interesting details and in the special effects, but overall, it doesn't have as many high points as do his best features. Aside from his adaptations of Jules Verne, he was usually at his best when coming up with his own ideas. Nevertheless, this is a watchable adaptation, and the changes to the story make it unpredictable even if you are well familiar with the original story.
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