PHARMACEUTICAL HALLUCINATIONS (1908)
aka Hallucinations pharmaceutiques ou Le truc de potard
Article 2535 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-14-2008
Posting Date: 7-21-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
A pharmacist and his assistants cater to the rich and powerful but neglect the poor. Then one of them finds himself haunted by apparitions, which drives him to seek help from a wizard.
It’s hard to believe it, but this Melies short (most of which move at a pretty fast clip) is slow to get started; for the most part, the first three minutes consists of watching the pharmacists mix their drugs. Still, once you see the rich man fawned over and the poor man thrown out, you’ll know that there’s a Moral Lesson To Be Learned here, and sure enough, once we see one of them being haunted by ghosts, we know he’s going to learn something about his treatment of the poor. The only problem is, I’m not sure what; the visit to the wizard brings about an encounter with a magical woman who rides off on a giant snail which, no doubt, means something, but I’m at a loss to say what; perhaps the secret is hidden in narration that was originally written for this short, but which no longer exists. Still, the Moral Lesson To Be Learned is learned, but it somehow requires the pharmacists turn into bakers. I emerged puzzled, but admittedly amused. Come to think of it, that’s a good reaction to a lot of Melies’s work.