See the partial moving picture

FIGURE 3.22

The Devil’s Spite

Les Quatre cents farces du diable (The Merry Frolics of Satan)

Georges Méliès, Star-Film, France, 1906

Dissatisfied with the skills of a mere scientist, the engineer Crackford makes a deal with the devil in the latter’s laboratory (left), exchanging his soul for his heart’s—or, rather, his libido’s—desire: the supreme thaumaturgic power to make whatever he desires appear. When he tries to back out on the deal, the devil sends his minions to wreak havoc with his home life (center), and when he tries to escape from the house, his coach is transformed into a ghostly carriage borne by the fanciful horse that Méliès called “The Skidoo Horse” (right). Coachman and passenger are live actors, while both horse and carriage are life-size props manipulated by invisible machinery and ropes. There are no composite shots and no special effects employed here (except the use of a black backdrop to obscure the stage machinery).

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