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The Cake-Walk Infernal (1903)

Le cake-walk infernal (original title)
Pluto, having seen the earth, comes back home amazed at the success of that well-known dance, the "cake-walk." He has brought back with him two noted well-known dancers, who start their ... See full summary »

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Pluto, having seen the earth, comes back home amazed at the success of that well-known dance, the "cake-walk." He has brought back with him two noted well-known dancers, who start their favorite dance amidst the flames. A queer and ugly being wishes also to join in the dance, but his limbs break away and dance far from him. All the subjects of His Majesty are seized with the irresistible mania for dancing, and start an unbridled provincial dance. At this sight Satan starts out of the earth a large blaze, which annihilates everything around him, disappearing himself through the flames. This view has beautiful new effects and much improves with colors. For the first time in a cinematograph view one can see some of the will-o'-the-wisp wandering among human beings. The effect is magical. Written by Méliès Catalog

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Short | Fantasy

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13 June 1903 (USA)  »

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The Cake-Walk Infernal  »

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Little substance but its style carries it
19 July 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Do they dance in Hell? If they do then this is maybe what it is like. We join the scene of naïve celebration among the dancers when a demon bursts through onto the scene to torment the only black dancer with a version of the cake-walk that has the fires of damnation behind it.

Back when many films were very descriptive and very 'real' in their subjects, Méliès must have been a bewildering influence. Films called 'man riding a horse' were wowing them in the moving pictures (or movies as they are still called) by doing exactly what they said on the tin, or in other words, such a film would feature a man on a horse, a training coming into a station and so on. Méliès created short films that contain visual images that still retain their appeal today and will be known to many people (even if they don't know that they are his images!) and this is the modern appeal of his films to me. Sure they are simple in terms of substance and are more style over content but remember these are a century old – think of how they must have been viewed then!

This is one example but it is not one of his best for my money. The film is weird even watching it now and it is far more about visual impact than about its narrative foundation or substance. It looks great and some of the effects show him to have been years ahead of his time – anyone looking for meaning or plot will be annoyed but the focus is visuals and, in this regard, it still works and is very imaginative and strange.

I have watched many rubbish films and many good films that have lasted two hours; this film lasts only a very minutes and is well worth the amount of time it took for me to watch it. Méliès' images are still in the public psyche today and this film, while not his most famous, is another good example of why that is the case.


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