The Metaphorical Spectacle

Les Sept châteaux du diable (The Devil’s Seven Castles)

Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé-Frères, France, 1902

The devil’s seven “castles” are the seven deadly sins, each of which is dramatized in a single-shot tableau. Scenes are linked by dissolves and identified by the appearance of explanatory signs that change from French to English (“The Devil’s Kitchen”) to German. The story of the devil’s efforts to seduce a simple woodcutter has a strong moral (and even religious) tone but seems to owe much to Georges Méliès in its fondness for trick effects (the hero’s wife, for example, is transformed into a coatrack on which, as luck would have it, there hangs a fine new suit of clothes for her husband).

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