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The Mysterious Retort (1906)
"Alchimiste Parafaragaramus ou La cornue infernale" (original title)

 |  Short, Fantasy, Mystery
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 386 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

A wizard sleeps at a table in his well-appointed sitting room. From a drawer in the table, a snake appears. The snake begins a series of transformations: he becomes a jester, a spider, and ... See full summary »

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A wizard sleeps at a table in his well-appointed sitting room. From a drawer in the table, a snake appears. The snake begins a series of transformations: he becomes a jester, a spider, and a woman. Each approaches the wizard as he sleeps. Each also works its magic on a glass vial on the wizard's table. Soon the vial has grown in size and is full of a bubbling liquid. The wizard wakes, the vial explodes. Who emerges victorious from the spells and dreams? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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snake | laboratory | alchemy | See All (3) »

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Short | Fantasy | Mystery

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The Mysterious Retort  »

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12 November 2002 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Even when we look at one of Melies' films and don't know what he is going on about, still, we are carried along by his speed, his good humor and his inventiveness -- after all, his films at this stage rarely last more than a minute.

Here, we have a piece that might be called "The Alchemist's Dream." The old alchemist falls asleep and dreams of finding the philosopher's stone: he dreams of snakes shedding their skins, of young women tossing gold, all the hermetical symbols of the Philosopher's Stone which not only granted the ability to transmute any item into gold, but gave one eternal youth.

So this is a sad movie, in a way: an old man dreams of being young. Yet Melies hides behind these symbols, which we don't know about nowadays, and produces a fun little piece.


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