See the moving picture


The Fairy Tale Spectacle (II)

Aladin ou la lampe merveilleuse (Aladdin or the Marvelous Lamp)

Albert Capellani, Pathé-Frères, France, 1906

Like Ali Baba et les quarante voleurs, Aladin is composed of intertitles and tableaux scenes. Because its 16 shot-scenes, however, cut across its six intertitles, it requires other devices—mostly cuts, some better matched than others—to make shot-to-shot transitions. We’re introduced to the young hero as he dreams (by means of in-camera matting and superimposition) of making love to a beautiful princess (1). A cut takes us to an outdoor bazaar, where he glimpses the princess of his dreams (2) and is approached by a mysterious bearded man (3) who escorts him into the desert. Shown by the stranger how to enter an underground cave, Aladin encounters such wonders as coin-spitting urns (4) before venturing (via a left-to-right pan) into an adjacent chamber, where he discovers a golden magic lamp (5). Producing a genie from the lamp, he frees himself from the grotto and (by means of a rather awkward cut) returns home, where he summons up another (large green) genie (6). A good matching cut takes us to the street before Aladin’s house, where a troop of soldiers invites him to the sultan’s palace. There, he’s given the sultan’s daughter (his dream princess) in marriage (7), but when they return to Aladin’s house for a private bridal feast, the mysterious stranger bursts in, seizes the lamp, and orders the genie to abduct the princess (8). Reduced to his original povertry, Aladin encounters an old beggar woman who, in exchange for the magic coins from the secret grotto, turns into a fairy, restores him to splendor, and points the way to the villain (9), whom he dispatches summarily. In the final tableau, an “apotheosis” celebrates Aladin’s wedding to the princess (see Figure 6.20).

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