Peau d’ane (1908)

PEAU D’ANE (1908)
aka Donkey Skin
Article 4911 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-27-2015
Directed by Albert Capellani
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Fairy tale

When a woman turns down an ugly suitor, a fairy godmother appears to her and tells her to hold off on getting married until she is given the skin of a magic donkey. When she gets the skin, she wears it until she meets a handsome prince. Will she win him?

This is a title that ended up on my “ones that got away” list, but as soon as it did, someone pointed me the way to a copy. The intertitles were in French, but there was a handy plot description on IMDB to help me out. Still, I have to admit that the story seems very odd; maybe if I read the original story, it might help, but in this form, the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, in that it seems to come across as a series of unconnected events rather than a story. Stylistically, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it was to the work of Melies. Granted, a lot of the early fantasists borrowed from Melies, but this one even borrowed his penchant for confusing crowd sequences; there are a few of them here. And, of course, there’s a scene with dancing girls. There’s lots of magic, even in scenes where you wouldn’t expect any, such as the cake-baking scene. Overall, this one is odd and not quite satisfying.

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