Saturday, July 06, 2013

Le Chevalier des Neiges / The Knight of the Snows (Komiya Collection print)

FR 1913. D: Georges Méliès. C: Georges Méliès (il diavolo). 35 mm. 383 m. 19' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Da: National Film Center - The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Komiya Collection). Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Accompagnamento al piano di Gabriel Thibaudeau, earphone commentary in Italian, 6 July 2013

A late fairy-tale film from le premier magicien du cinéma.

The evil count, Hugh the Cruel, is furious: Princess Adelina has been promised to the Knight of the Snows. Hugh commands the aid of his magician and agrees to sell his soul to Beelzebub if Adelina is not married to the Knight of the Snows. With the help of a flying dragon Hugh the Cruel abducts Adelina and consigns her to the cellar dungeon of his castle. The Knight of the Snows consults the same magician, who conjures the forces of light to help him. A good fairy gives him a talisman. The forces of virtue head towards the castle on a slow sailboat. The princess is rescued, and Beelzebub claims Hugh's soul.

The fairy-tale is but a framework for scenes full of wonders. During Hugh's rampage in the magician's lair we see a witch, a skull, a snake, and little assistant devils accompanying Beelzebub. The dragon taking Adelina to the castle is of a droll and lethargic kind. In the nocturnal castle there are will-o'-the-wisp lights, and the rocks of the underground tunnel are enchanted.

In his penultimate film Georges Méliès is faithful to his characteristic aesthetics, the early cinema mode of tableaux, long shots, long takes, immobile camera, and montage interdit. As always, the visual effects and the special effects are based on stop motion camera.

The first artist of the cinema ended his career in full command of his craft.

The golden age of the fairy-tale cinema ended with the long 19th century.

The Komiya Collection print is beautiful. The basic colour is sepia toning through most of the picture. There is red tinting in the explosion, and special shots are both tinted and toned with a red and blue twin colouring. The will-o'-the-wisp scene has also red and blue tinting and toning.

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