Figure 7.22

Mephisto Americanized

The Mystic Swing

Edwin S. Porter, Edison Manufacturing Co., USA, 1900

An Artist’s Dream

Edwin S. Porter, Edison Manufacturing Co., USA, 1900

See the moving picture

See the moving picture

Both of the above films were released by the Edison Co. in 1900. In The Mystic Swing (top), a magician demonstrates his powers to Mephisto by making a young woman appear in a swing. Mephisto responds by making her disappear, and when the magician conjures her back, Mephisto turns her into a skeleton. Ultimately, the male magicians satisfy their needs by producing two women. In An Artist’s Dream, Mephisto treats a sleeping painter to a dream of frustration. He brings to life the female figures in the artist’s paintings, but when the artist tries to embrace one of them, she disappears. He wakes a second time to find that the women are, after all, inanimate figures on the wall and settles instead for the pleasures of a nearby bottle. Such films reveal an obvious effort to capitalize on the popular trick films of Méliès; indeed, the casting of the well-known literary figure of the devilish Mephisto seems to be a specific (though unalchemized) borrowing from Méliès (see Chapter 3.2).

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