George Méliès

film 39 of 70

Jupiter’s Thunderbolts

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 19, 2015

You wouldn’t want to do this kind of score too often, given that the cool Giorgio Moroder ends up obscuring the geologic Fritz Lang, but it sure works here. As ever, all the settings are very successful. First come the stormy clouds, the (portly/o’er bearded, effectively comic) deity appearing in their midst, with an aureole right out of Catholicism. He creates his temple court out of the nothing—which is the Raymond Durgnat point that Paul Schrader quotes when criticizing the facile, basically unrealistic nature of too much commercial religious cinema. (1972; check the index.) It’s significant that Meliés does this kind of thing for two pretty unsacred reasons: to show off (always charmingly) and to be funny. This isn’t the kind of thing that should increase our faith, unless we’re omni-spiritual, or complete primitives.

Yes, this space is framed theatrically, but it’s explored and blocked classically. We have plenty of stasis and plenty of movement, all in fine balance, and everything arrayed pretty perfectly. Lots of fun with the bolts. Now, the Muses. Great conclusion, with the muses making such awful music that Jupiter just gets rid of them. Or was the fault in his ears? So many symbolic possibilities! About which the author probably doesn’t care a bit. Doesn’t matter. Fun if you want, or infinities.