Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Window into the Past (2) -
An Innovative 'Cinderella' for 1899



Another look backwards guys - this time at a technically and narratively innovative early silent film by Frenchman George Méliès (1861-1938) - 'Cinderella'. The music I've added is from Sergei Prokofiev's score for the ballet of the same name.

As you probably know, much of Mélièss creativity was put to the service of science fiction and fantasy, such as his 1902 film of Jules Verne's 'Le voyage dans la Lune'. But his invention is also evident here, in the (partially) hand-painted footage, the dissolves, and the stop tricks or substitutions, where, for example, the illusion can be given of mice becoming footmen, and pumpkins coaches.

What I particularly like about 'Cinderella' is that the narrative is so economically and clearly laid out. Good story-boarding.

The Ugly Step Sisters depart for the ball, and leaving behind a despairing Cinderella ...



Creative stops and cutting allows the Fairy Godmother to 'magically' and suddenly appear in the fireplace ...


... and mice, released from their cage by Cinderella, ...


... to be turned into very much larger mice ...


... and then to rather surprised coachmen ...



And of course there's more - a table is brought in ...


... a pumpkin placed on it ...


... and, with the wave of a starry-ended wand (the very best quality), all is enlarged ...


... and changed into the beautiful Baroque coach we all expect ...


After some up-styling, courtesy of more wand work, ...


... Cinderella realises she really is Ball-bound ...


Things are in full swing at The Castle ...


... when she arrives ...


After an introduction to Prince Charming ...


... our heroine's quickly on the dance floor - with an enthusiasm curiously reminiscent of my last Saturday night at the Mardi Gras party ...


'Midnight' inevitably arrives ...


... and 'passes' (imaginatively done, eh!) ...


... and Cinderella ...


... is pretty much undone and flees the ball ...


Arriving home ...


... she finds some fairly surreal clock/dancing girl events unfolding, creatively expressing her immediate mental state ...



However one thing leads to another and we begin to suspect an excuse for a skin show ...


But just when we seem to be getting lost in late C19 smut, Prince Charming arrives, glass slipper at the ready ...


The Ugly Steps Sisters, as is their way, try first ...


... but of course the only foot etc etc etc ...


The Fairy Godmother again magically appears ...


... transformations take place ...


... and The Happy Couple depart ...


And all is set for The Wedding ...


... and The Celebrations, replete with dancers and ... a ballerina! And lots more leg work ...


Finally everything is rapt up with a huge tableau vivant ...


... and all is very well with the world.

video

A little five minute master piece. Which moves at just the right pace. And in which the technical innovations are not forced but seem natural and necessary.

A delight - hope you enjoy it!

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