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An astronomer of age, wealth, and erudition conducts classes in his home. His students are not always respectful, and he suffers their pranks and high jinks. Then, at noon, everything darkens and the astronomer hurries upstairs to his telescope. It is an eclipse of the sun, and through his glass, he sees a female moon coming toward a masculine sun, flirting as they move closer to what becomes a consummation. The heavens erupt with showers of stars that become women. In his excitement, the astronomer loses what little dignity he has left. Written by
The eclipse scene is certainly this film's most provocative point of interest. As usual in Méliès's films, the sun and moon appear with human faces, but what's curious is that the film quite clearly depicts the eclipse as an act of sex. The expressions of delight and orgasm from the feminine moon, in addition to the increased movement of the sun's rays from behind, leave viewers without doubt about that. This scene is followed by scenes of wandering stars and a meteor shower, with, again, as usual of Méliès, people as part of the celestial bodies. Originally, as John Frazer has pointed out ("Artificially Arranged Scenes"), this was the entirety of the film. It appeared as part of multi-media programs at the Folies Bergère. For this market, the sexualized eclipse was surely appropriate and appreciated. Méliès had already been doing well with commissions from music halls for his films, such as "The Adventurous Automobile Trip" and "The Merry Frolics of Satan".
Apparently, it was for adding the film to his general film catalogue that Méliès added the wrapper of the astronomy class. For what it is, it isn't bad, with Méliès playing the professor, who is made fun of by his students and by his own overexcitement. Overall, "The Eclipse" displays fantastical and theatrical elements typical in Méliès's oeuvre. Unlike some of his earlier films, however, dissolves don't dominate as transitions and the continuity, aided by title cards, is more modern and somewhat cinematic rather than the overly theatrical tableau vivant style. The transition from the eclipse scene to the wandering stars is especially good, as it's moving scenery of clouds that seems like, but is not, a dolly, or downward crane into the clouds. Méliès had previously moved scenery and props to the effect of seeming like the camera moved, which it very rarely, if ever, did in Méliès's films, but this instance is a rare example of its use as a transition between scenes. Moreover, by this time, the theatrics in Méliès's films had become more elaborate. The moving scenery and performers stringed to stars and planets, as well as the three-layered cinematic multiple exposure effect for the meteor shower bare evidence of this.
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