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The Apparition (1903)

Le revenant (original title)
Alone in his room at an inn, a lustful old man is haunted by spirits.

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Two servants at an inn, a steward and a pretty maid, prepare a room for an old man. As they leave, the old man attempts to grab the maid, but she rebuffs him and quickly exits. Alone, the old man sits at a table to read his newspaper, lighting a candle to do so. Seemingly enchanted, the candle glides away to the opposite end of the table. The old man moves closer to the light, but the candle avoids him. When he turns his attention away briefly the candle grows enormous, then shrinks again. The old man moves too close to the candle and his newspaper catches fire. He throws the paper down and sprays it with seltzer, but it turns into a beautiful woman, who smiles seductively. When he rushes towards her, she turns into a horrible old woman wrapped in a shroud, who laughs at the man and dances mockingly. He attempts to strike her, but passes through her. As he flings himself at her in one last spectacular dive, the maid re-enters with his supper. The Apparition disappears, and the old man... Written by wmorrow59

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ghost | See All (1) »

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Short | Comedy | Fantasy

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17 October 1903 (USA)  »

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The Apparition  »

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1.33 : 1
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Remade as Revenant (2008) See more »

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A strange little tale from Georges Méliès
20 April 2002 | by See all my reviews

Here's a tongue-in-cheek ghost story from French pioneer Georges Méliès, a curious tale of a lecherous old man at an inn who is menaced by an enchanted candlestick. As the film begins the old man arrives at his room for the night. Almost immediately, he makes a clumsy pass at the chambermaid, who rebuffs him. After he is left alone his candle begins to glide back and forth on the table, then it grows large and menaces him. (And I guess someone could write an essay about the symbolism ...) A ghostly, seductive girl appears and dances for him, but when he tries to embrace her she turns into a hideous crone. The story builds to a comic climax just before it ends.

The narrative is simple and easy to follow without the help of title cards. This film is brief but engaging, like a simple story told at a campfire. It's not as spectacular as some of the other Méliès films I've seen, but effective. When the ghost appears and reveals her true form there is a nice "shimmer" effect. Plus, the punchline is amusing.


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