George Méliès

film 55 of 70

A Miracle Under the Inquisition

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 19, 2015

Cf. Méliès’ Bluebeard—when the trick cut is utilized in some narrative or moral connection, potential mannerism becomes purposeful method. This one is quite scarifying. The wrapping of the woman at the stake effects a very successful sleight of hand: you can’t quite spot the dissolve, so that she really appears to go up in those terrible flames. The semaphoric acting, so charming in the comic films, is less effective here. Still, the rather naïve, retributive reversal really works. An angel—unmotivated and implausible—shows up, restores the woman, and gives the inquisitioner some of his. Again, always: how did they do that?! Those flames look so real. Great touch: the fire is extinguished, the guy keeps writhing still. Getting beneath the surface on the subject and the sense of damnation, maybe.

This inquisitioner is an interesting cross between Méliès’ usual devils and a churchman. Also, the set has a diagonal orientation.