In this spectacular free adaptation of the popular theatre play "La Biche au Bois", the valiant Prince Bel-Azor pursues a baleful old witch to her impregnable castle, to save the beautiful young Princess Azurine.
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 »
As we are treated with a rare appearance from a true master of the miraculous Asian thaumaturgy, a fine display of multiplication commences, and a serene young geisha completes the enchantment. What does the Chinese conjurer have in mind?
Through a rapid succession of drawings, ingenious disguises and soft dissolves, the director portrays a quick-sketch artist who transforms to various characters according to the static outlines on his chalkboard.
This is a pretty interesting attempt at telling the story of Faust by Melies. It appears as though Melies himself played Mephistopheles. And while the same director had already adapted Faust and Marguerite in 1897 (in a lost film of the same name), this Melies epic production is a lot more complex than that film probably was.
However, the print quality is atrocious. It looks like someone who worked for Melies took some black paint and painted the darks darker. This makes the film quality into a big, runny, spattered mess. I know they could make cleaner prints by 1904. Or maybe it's the film was rediscovered in horrible condition and the print quality isn't the fault of the camera.
The other thing is that Flicker Alley calls this a fragment and indeed the Star Film Catalogue number claims this was originally 13-15 minutes long. Yet I've looked at the description of this in Melies' Catalogue of Genuine and Original Star Films and little is indicated to be missing. I've evidenced that some bits and pieces here and there aren't here, but there's not enough evidenced missing to make up the rest of the original run time. The print available is only, like, 4 minutes!
I'm guessing the description I read is a description of a shortened print of the original. Still I wonder how the original was 15 minutes when what is here is very close to completing the description.
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