See the moving picture

FIGURE 3.23

Prince Charming’s Magical Mystery Tour

Le Palais des 1001 nuits (The Palace of the Arabian Nights)

Georges Méliès, Star-Film, France, 1905

To evoke a sense of wonder appropriate to the fairy tale, Méliès composed such films as Le Palais des 1001 nuits out of spectacular tableaux. This sequence begins in the Magical Forest, where Prince Charming and his companions encounter the Gold Fairy (left). She leads them into an underground cavern, down a slope of ice (second from left), where a fire demon appears to cast fire balls around the chamber (second from right). From the fire emerge dancing skeletons, who disappear when the adventurers attempt to dispatch them with their swords. Like many of Méliès’ “magical” scenes, the scene with the skeltons was created with what is sometimes called the black-background technique (see Reading 3.3). When the scenery was filmed, the proscenium area that would appear as the background for the skelton figures was blacked out with a piece of cardboard and so remained unexposed. The film was then rewound to the appropriate point, and when the dancing skeletons (men in black suits with white-painted bones) were filmed, they were recorded on the previously unexposed area of the film.

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