See the moving picture


Diminishing the Devil

Le Diable géant ou le miracle de la Madonne (The Devil and the Statue / The Gigantic Devil)

Georges Méliès, Star-Film, France, 1902

As a mischievous devil, Méliès grows to terrifying heights to menace a young woman—only to be reduced to a harmless little imp and made to vanish by the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The imagery is the same as that in L’Homme à la tête de caoutchouc—expansion as a sign of the arrogance of power and diminution as the return of reality to its proper proportions. The fantastical character also stands in for the same figure—for the scientist/magician—and the metaphor requires that the devil be cut down to size whenever he believes that his role is to terrorize people, not merely to bedevil them. Undoubtedly, it also has something to do with maiden’s subconscious fears of the outsized male.

Back to CHAPTER 3/Part 2