As much as I adore Melies' work, the fantasy, the joy of performance, the sheer thought that had not Griffith come along and made such a strong show of Englishman George Smith's film grammar that we might today be looking at movies based on Melies' work.... well, when he wasn't playing to his strengths he was fairly weak. This is one of his weaker efforts directed without the loving precision and vivacity of his own performances: when one of the performers leans against a backdrop, you see it shimmy like the cardboard it is.
Gaumont and Pathe were moving in on him in France and this was the year Griffith would begin to turn the entire industry upside down. Soon that cardboard would rip.
This is one of the many previously lost or infrequently seen Melies pictures that have been made available by Serge Bromberg, David Shepherd and a myriad of other hands in the newly issued DVD set GEORGES MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA. Required viewing for anyone interested in the history of movies ..... and a lot of fun.
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