LA TABLE MAGIQUE (1899)
aka The Magic Table, Salle a manger fantastique, A Dinner Under Difficulties
Article 4274 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Georges Melies
What it is: Trick film
A family sits down together for dinner, but finds that their table is acting bizarre.
It’s a familiar early movie scenario; the table teleports from one place to another, grows too high and too low, etc., much to the consternation of the family. Of the Chomon efforts I’ve seen, this one is one of the most Meliesian of the bunch; it rarely if at all does anything that Melies wouldn’t have done. In its way, it’s entertaining enough, but if this is indeed a 1908 movie as CITWF suggests (there’s no listing for this one on IMDB), then it’s pretty old hat by that time. Still, there is some doubt as to the actual year of production on this one; some of my sources say it’s from 1905. I also wonder if the print is complete, as it cuts off right after the appearance of a demon in a big flower pot that you barely get to see.
**NOTE** If some of the comments in the text above are confusing, it is because I left it as I first wrote, but changed some of the credits due to discoveries made about the film after I wrote my review. The changes I made were the addition of the last two alternate titles, the change of the year from 1908 to 1899, and the change of the director from Segundo de Chomon to Georges Melies. When the review was published, the knowledgeable doctor kiss on CHFG pointed out that what I had seen was an unknown fragment that had been misattributed to Chomon for years; apparently, no movie matches it in the well-documented Pathe filmography. However, there were enough clues given in the review to lead him to the discovery that the fragment actually belonged to the Melies film SALLE A MANGER FANTASTIQUE. This, of course, invalidates much of my review, but I’m grateful that it led to the discovery of the truth about it.