A bearded magician holds up a large playing card and makes it larger. He tears up a card of a queen, burns the torn bits, and a life-size Queen of Hearts card appears; then, it becomes ... See full summary »
In a public place in Constantinople at the corner of a bazaar, the executioner is seated upon a stone and is resting from his daily labors while eating a crust of bread. Suddenly there come... See full summary »
The background of this picture represents a scene along the beautiful river Seine in Paris. A gentleman enters, and taking a blackboard from the side of the picture, he draws on it a sketch... See full summary »
At the royal court, a prince is presenting the princess whom he is pledged to marry, when a witch suddenly appears. Though driven off, the witch soon returns, summons some of her servants, ... See full summary »
This shows a prince entering upon the stage of the King's private theatre. He is about to do a few mystifying tricks for the amusement of the court. Taking a large sheet of cardboard, he ... See full summary »
A Tableaux Vivant Ilustrating an Allegorical Subject
It is interesting that the Catholic -- but pro-Dreyfus -- Méliès would make this allegorical film about a symbolic Jew, played by Méliès himself, wandering throughout the ages, plagued for eternity by his complicity in the death of Christ. On the surface, the film isn't anti-Semitic so much as it is illustrative of a tenet in the Catholic faith going back to the Medieval period, still very much in force at the end of the 19th century. This dogma did led to widespread persecution of Jews in Europe. The Roman Church has officially abandoned this policy in the 21st century, but in 1904, Méliès' Jew appears doomed to wander forever through his personal hell, with the spirit world beyond as resigned to keeping him on his feet as society itself, though in this case society is absent. Méliès deals with a social phenomenon as a sacred one, creating a cognitive dissonance in modern viewers. Nevertheless, the lightning storm in the ruin is impressively achieved through matting and some rapid editing on the matte, a rare effect in a Méliès title.
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