Mesmerist and Country Couple (1899)

Article 4755 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-10-2015
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Magic trick short

A country couple visits a noted mesmerist, who gives them a demonstration of his hypnotic and magic powers.

Here we have another Melies-inspired early short in which a magician demonstrates his prowess with the help of early film special effects. It’s tempting to dismiss it as just another knockoff, but there are couple of noteworthy points to this one. For one, the short does show a certain amount of energy, which does add to the fun value. The other is that it seems less arbitrary than some of Melies’s shorts, in that there’s a certain character relationship at work here; the magician isn’t working with known assistants but with a couple of people who haven’t met him before. Though this latter point is very minor, it does add a slightly different flavor to the proceedings, and considering how many of these shorts were made, any little thing that can make them stand apart is worth noting.

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