George Méliès

film 58 of 70

The Wonderful Living Fan

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 19, 2015

Lovely. Just lovely. Beautiful clear picture, with a music box score that really enhances. The French Revolution is long past, but with such superb costuming, with actors and dancers that so know how to wear them, with all of these graceful and musical movements, the imagination is fired. The intellect is fired too. Could it be that monarchical hierarchy had more upside than democratic, rabble-roused sensibilities imagine? It’s not necessarily all frivolousness and injustice. Maybe frivolousness and injustice are the disastrously wrong way of doing things that could also have been, sometimes actually were, done right.

For instance, on the good side of that ledger, we’re seeing that ornamentation can be an emblem, even a provider of enraptured vision. Everything is beautiful! The fan apparatus is really cool, and in stages. Of course, there are ladies. Not eroticized, I don’t think, but definitely subordinated for the sake of window display. But I’m thinking, if you’ll indulge me, of the Scottish kitchens of our family’s PhD experiences. These were filled, week by week, with my mother’s cousins and cousins-in-law. Outside in the parlours were the men, waiting to have their plates brought to them, and cleared for them. Drudgery! Or apparently. But you listen closely, and watch who’s making what decisions, and feel the fierce affections that are operating. Only subordinate if you let it be!

I have digressed. Back to our friend M. Méliès: the ladies are decorative, but there are still infinities of structure and substance going on here. Also, these dissolves are amazing. The vestments change, and the bodies beneath don’t seem to move at all.