THE GOOD SHEPHERDESS AND THE EVIL PRINCESS (1908)
aka La bonne bergere et la mouvaise princesse
Article 4050 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Georges Melies
What it is: Good and evil
A generous and lovely shepherdess is the target of an abusive princess, no doubt jealous of her beauty. Both are visited by a mystical angel who takes them to fantasy worlds, though their respective fates are very different.
I’ve been recently watching a lot of the early silents in another movie-viewing project I’m engaged in, and I watched quite a few of Melies’s shorts. I got the overall impression during this particular year that Melies was trying to get away from his usual approach somewhat and attempting to tell more straightforward and less special-effects laden stories. Unfortunately, because he never quite changed his directorial style to accommodate, this resulted in some of the dullest movies of his career. This one really isn’t an exception; it’s mostly dull and obvious, and it only gets fun when the evil princess is terrorized by hellish visions in the ruins of a castle (including the ever-present tumbling imps), and that’s largely because it’s the most typically Meliesian scene in the movie. One can see here why he fell out of favor.