Le cerceau magique (1908)

aka The Magic Hoop
Article 4621 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-3-2014
Directed by Emile Cohl
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Trick / animation short

When her hoop breaks, a little girl gets a replacement from a magician, and this hoop has magic powers.

This short adds a little variety to the oeuvre of French animator Emile Cohl. About half of it is a live-action trick film, with the magic hoop showing its ability to change its size and to make the person looking through it change their clothing. This part is entertaining but standard trick-film fare for its time. The animation section only begins at about the halfway point when the hoop is hung on a wall by itself; at that point, animated events occur within the confines of the hoop. During this sequence, Cohl toys with stop-motion animation, with some of the special effects involving pieces of paper being folded into origami shapes. Part of it is the usual stream-of-consciousness animation we’ve come to expect from Cohl, but about a minute of the footage is hard to make out, due to the extreme deterioration of the print. As a result, this isn’t quite as enjoyable a watch as it might have been (though that is not Cohl’s fault), but it is fun seeing him vary the routine somewhat.

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