With the help of a magic cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a variety of supernatural characters.With the help of a magic cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a variety of supernatural characters.With the help of a magic cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a variety of supernatural characters.
The birth of horror
This Georges Melies film is one of the very first films to dip into the horror genre. As was usual for a Melies production it's full of visual trickery and invention, while obviously being stagey and crude due to it's incredibly old age. It certainly must be one of the first films to make reference to vampires with its bat that turns into Satan. The simple narrative involves this character manifesting himself in an old castle and then conjuring up a cauldron, a young woman and old man. A heroic knight appears shortly afterwards and thwarts the villain. Like all of Melies films, this one isn't about story-lines. Cinema back in the earliest years of the medium never was. It actually took a while before it became obvious that the medium would even be any good for telling stories. And it took many years for both audience and film-makers to work out how to do it. So these early films like the Melies ones were mainly a means of showcasing visual trickery, a way of letting people see the impossible. Hence their extremely short running times too. But I always sort of marvel at the ingenuity of those guys from over 100 years ago. Right from the offset they had loads of crazy ideas of how to present images in creative and interesting ways. It's well worth any fan of cinema taking a few short minutes of their time out to watch these ancient films, not only because they are the very first primitive twitches of cinema but also because they are fascinating historical documents in themselves.
- Apr 30, 2010
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content