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The Enchanted Well (1903)

Le puits fantastique (original title)
Not Rated | | Fantasy, Drama, Short | 27 June 1903 (USA)
Denied a handout, a witch exacts vengeance by cursing the village well.

Director:

Georges Méliès
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Cast

Credited cast:
Georges Méliès ... Townsperson
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Storyline

Townspeople are seen walking past the village well. A man and a mule [the latter obviously a person in a mule costume] stop nearby as the man prepares to get water. An old crone accosts the man and begs a hand-out, but the man indignantly refuses. As he turns back to deal with his mule, the crone reveals herself a witch and curses the well, then exits, shaking her fist. The man returns and fetches water, but when he pours it from the well bucket into his own bucket, the water turns to flame. Simultaneously, a demon appears over the well, laughing at the man. As the man rushes at the well, the demon disappears, and the well suddenly surges out of the ground into the sky like Jack's beanstalk. Two snakes [hand puppets] spring out of the side of the well and taunt the man, then vanish. Three demons appear, jeer at the man, and disappear. The base of the well opens up and a dragon emerges, roars, grabs the man by the foot, and attempts to pull him in. Then four human-sized frogs crawl out... Written by wmorrow59

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Plot Keywords:

dragon | See All (1) »

Genres:

Fantasy | Drama | Short

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

France

Release Date:

27 June 1903 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Enchanted Well See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent
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User Reviews

 
A memorable tale of revenge, told in three minutes
20 April 2002 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

This is a brief but enjoyable tale from that great French film-making pioneer, Georges Méliès. As usual, there are no title cards, and the camera sits so far from the actors you might feel like you're watching from the mezzanine of a theater, but this short is a treat anyhow. The plot is easy to follow and the various effects are highly amusing. The narrative concerns a witch's revenge on a man who refuses to give her a hand-out. When he scorns her, and turns his attention to drawing water from a well, he encounters snakes, demons, flame, and other signs of the witch's displeasure. It's basically a horror story, though not especially scary unless you're frightened by sock-puppets and men dressed as enormous frogs. Buffs will recognize the "Méliès dragon" which pops up in other films, such as his Palace of the Arabian Nights.

My only problem with this film is the poor condition of the image. In surviving prints (or at least the one I've seen) the picture is grainy and badly washed-out, but once you've had a moment to adjust it's all right. After the Méliès operation went out of business during the Great War all his original negatives were scattered, literally hundreds of films lost, and it was many years before attempts were made to rescue and restore the survivors. Too bad, but the spirit behind these delightful works comes across, and we can still enjoy what's left.


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