The Magic Lantern (1903)

aka La lanterne magique
Article 4194 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-2-2013
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Musical trick film

Two clowns construct a giant magic lantern which not only projects images, but spews forth legions of dancing girls.

Though technically this is a very well done trick film, I had to admit I found this one a bit on the boring side. It’s one of those which is heavy on the dancing girls of which Melies was so fond, and though there is something to admire in the moves of an acrobatic solo dancer that shows up, I still find these sections a bit tedious. The best bit comes at the end when a troupe of gendarmes shows up and corners the two clowns in their own magic lantern; they transform into a strange creature that looks like a melding between a human and a giant puppet; it’s easily the weirdest moment of this short.

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