Les invisibles (1906)

aka Invisible Thief
Article 4239 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-31-2013
Directed by Gaston Velle
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: A bizarre trick short

A scientist concocts a potion that can turn people invisible for short periods of time. Two crooks steal the potion and go on a crime spree.

Somehow I think it’s rather apt that the opening scene of this one has the scientist blowing his mind – literally. That’s because this early invisibility short goes off on a couple of mind-blowing tangents before it’s all over. Most of the effects are of the Melies variety, but there’s some original tricks here as well; for example, I love the way they concoct a chase scene through the use of silhouettes at one point. A few effects come out of left field; when the scientist puts his potion away, he stores it in the closet where he keeps a skeleton (which is a joke in itself). When the thieves open the closet door, the skeleton comes to life, goes to pieces and does a dance. Still, the strangest moment comes at the very end, and I won’t give it away, but if anyone out there remembers the old animated series “Hoppity Hooper” and recalls a story known as “The Traffic Zone”, you’ll be prepared for the final scene. I thought this one was going to be lost; I’m delighted to see it still exists, because it’s a lot of fun.

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