A MIRACLE UNDER THE INQUISITION (1904)
aka Un miracle dous l’inquisition
Article 4761 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Georges Melies
What it is: Tale of divine retribution
A cruel inquisitor ignores the pleadings of a woman and burns her at the stake. However, when an angel appears, he finds he will have to pay a price for his cruelty…
This is one of Melies’s more serious shorts; its tale of divine retribution is not played for laughs. In punishment for the inquisitor’s act, the woman is revived and set free, while the inquisitor is forced to take the woman’s place on the stake. The fact that an angel administers the punishment does seem to imply that he finds nothing divinely inspired by the acts of the inquisition, and I find it still relevant today to consider that not everything done in the name of God is necessarily holy. The special effects aren’t some of Melies’s best, and I’m curious about the very ending of the piece; the fire unexpectedly goes out but we still see the inquisitor struggling. I’m not sure if something was neglected in the special effects or if mercy was being given to the inquisitor. The short is interesting, but it doesn’t rank with Melies’s best.