Cinderella (1899)

CINDERELLA (1899)
aka Cendrillon
Article 4628 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-11-2014
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Barral, Bleuette Bernon, Carmely
Country: France
What it is: Fairy tale

With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is able to go to the ball, but will she be back by midnight?

Georges Melies took two stabs at the Cinderella story, both of them extant. This, the earlier one, tells the story in five minutes and 41 seconds, so you can imagine that things are rather rushed. Also, given Melies’s love for special effects spectacle, it is perhaps no surprise that the fairy godmother first appears about ten seconds into the production and immediately starts in on all of the magic transformation of preparing Cinderella for the ball. Once she gets there, we get about ten seconds of dancing before the clock strikes midnight, and after being warned by the gnome of the clock (which I’m pretty sure is original to this version of the story), she turns back and rushes off, leaving the slipper. It’s here that Melies definitely goes off on his own tangent, as Cinderella arrives back home only to be tormented by creatures from the clock, which allows Melies to indulge in a lot more magical hocus-pocus. Then the prince shows up, tries on the slipper, and finds Cinderella, and the fairy godmother reappears to give her nice clothes to wear. The amazing thing at this point is that the movie still has about two minutes to go, so we have about one minute of a long wedding procession and then another minute of dancing girls. Well, I will say this much about the movie; it’s definitely true to Melies’s muse, and even with the padding in the last two minutes, it’s rather fun.

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