The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and the Moon (1907)

aka L’eclipse du soleil un pleine lune
Article 4654 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-13-2014
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France
What it is: Comic special effects short

An astronomer hosts a get-together so that he and his fellows can observe a rare occurrence; an eclipse of the sun by the moon.

I’ve always been rather fond of this Melies short, largely due to the sections that do work. However, I did notice on this watching that it’s somewhat marred by the opening and closing sequences with the astronomer; though overtly comic, it’s not really all that amusing and takes up too much of the running time. The best part of the short is the special effects sequences in the middle. There’s a sequence where various heavenly bodies pass by, including the cranky guy on Saturn (a regular Melies character) who gets into a tussle with another heavenly body over a woman lying on a crescent moon. There’s also a surreal and oddly beautiful segment showing various heavenly bodies raining down from the heavens. However, the high point of this one is easily the eclipse itself, largely because it turns out to be something of a racy joke; watch the faces of the sun and the moon during this sequence and you should get an idea of what is REALLY going on here. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, the title does mention the “courtship” of the sun and the moon. This would be one of Melies’s best shorts if the beginning and ending sequences were trimmed down.

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