THE VOYAGE OF THE BOURRICHON FAMILY (1913)
aka The Haunted Hotel, Le voyage de la famille Bourrichon
Article 4763 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Georges Melies
What it is: Comic mayhem
A family goes on vacation to escape creditors. The creditors conspire with the servants to follow the family and torment them.
This was the last film of Georges Melies, and though it does have a smattering of special effects, the emphasis is not on elements of the fantastic but rather on comic lunacy. That is an unfortunate choice on his part; in terms of humor, he worked best when the wit grew naturally out of the proceedings, but when he tried too overtly for comedy, the result was usually an unfocused and unfunny mess. That’s the case here; his fondness for multiple characters in long shots result in us viewers not being sure who or what to watch when the mayhem gets underway, and he never really figures out a good way to take a comical situation and transform it into workable comic bits. There are a few fantastical moments here and there, but they not only seem not particularly original, but out of place as well, considering the situation. In the end, this one just doesn’t play to Melies’s strengths, and it’s sad it would turn out to be his last work.