See the moving picture


Méliès in America (II)

Cendrillon (Cinderella)

Georges Méliès, Star-Film, France, 1899

Méliès’ 20-tableau rendition of the Cinderella story, with its use of dissolves between scenes, was extremely influential in the U.S., where it was imitated especially by Vitagraph. Characteristically, Méliès produced a spectacle of transformation (the heroine’s metamorphosis into a princess) and display (a finale of dancing women). He also included a centerpiece dream of frustration featuring an elaborate barrage of substitution tricks to turn ordinary objects into symbols of an unstable world. In Cinderella’s nightmare, a grandfather clock hops up on a table and spits out the gnome who’d put an abrupt end to Cinderella’s fantasy-come-true at the royal ball. From the clock also come the dancing female timepieces shown here, who are soon transformed into a single giant clock. The instability of this world, of course, reflects Cinderella’s fears and uncertainties, all of which are symbolized in the fairy godmother’s stern warning that happiness comes to an end at midnight.

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