MANOIR DU DIABLE, LE aka. The House of the Devil
(Georges Méliès, 1896, France, 3m, Col-BW)
MANOIR DU DIABLE, LE aka. The House of the Devil (Georges Méliès, 1896, France, 3m, Col-BW)
Directed by Georges Méliès
Produced by Georges Méliès
Starring Jeanne d'Alcy, Jules-Eugène Legris
Production company: Star Film Company
Release dates Winter 1896–1897
Running time (3 min)
Le Manoir du diable or The House of the Devil, released in the United States as The Haunted Castle and in Britain as The Devil's Castle, is an 1896 French short silent film directed by Georges Méliès. The film, a brief pantomimed sketch in the style of a theatrical comic fantasy, tells the story of an encounter with the Devil and various attendant phantoms. It is intended to evoke amusement and wonder from its audiences, rather than fear. However, because of its themes and characters, it can technically be considered the first horror film (and, because it includes a transformation involving a bat, it has even been called the first vampire film). The film is also innovative in length - its running time of over three minutes was ambitious for its era.
The film opens with a large bat flying into a medieval castle. The bat circles the room, before suddenly changing into Mephistopheles, an incarnation of the Devil. Mephistopheles produces a cauldron and an assistant, who helps him conjure a woman from the cauldron.
The room is cleared shortly before two cavaliers enter. The devil's assistant pokes their backs before instantaneously transporting to different areas of the room, confusing the pair and causing one to flee. The second stays and has several other tricks played on him, such as furniture being moved around and the sudden appearance of a skeleton. The cavalier is unfazed, using a sword to attack the skeleton, which then turns into a bat, then into Mephistopheles, who conjures four spectres to subdue the man. Recovering from the women's attack, the man is visibly dazed and is brought the woman from the cauldron, who impresses him with her beauty. Mephistopheles then turns her into a withered old crone in front of the man's eyes, then again into the four spectres.
The second cavalier returns and after a brief show of bravery, flees again, this time by leaping over the balcony's edge. After the spectres disappear, the cavalier is confronted face-to-face by the Devil before reaching for and brandishing a large crucifix, which causes the devil to vanish.
The Haunted Castle was filmed outside in the garden of Méliès's property in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, with painted scenery. In Méliès's era, film actors performed anonymously and no credits were provided. However, it is known that Jehanne d'Alcy, a successful stage actress who appeared in many of Méliès's films and later became his second wife, plays the woman who comes out of the cauldron. The film historian Georges Sadoul hypothesized that the Devil in the film was played by Jules-Eugène Legris, a magician who performed at Méliès's Thêatre Robert-Houdin in Paris and who later made an appearance in Méliès's famous 1902 film A Trip to the Moon.
The film was released by Méliès's studio, commonly known as the Star Film Company, and numbered 78–80 in its catalogues. It remains unknown whether the film was either released at the end of the year 1896 or at the beginning of 1897, but it should not be confused with Le Château hanté, made by Méliès later in 1897 and also released as The Haunted Castle. The film was presumed lost until 1988, when a copy was found in the New Zealand Film Archive.
The House of the Devil (Le Manoir du Diable) - Review
What was the first horror film ever made? It depends on who you ask. Some experts will say that it is The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, made in 1920, and others will say that it is Le Manoir du Diable, made in France in 1896 by Georges Méliès. Le Manoir du Diable was released on Christmas Eve, 1896, at the Theatre Robert Houdin, 8 boulevard des Italiens, Paris. It is only about 3 minutes long and although Méliès intended it to be amusing most people consider it to be a horror film. I do as well, and even to the present day horror and humour continues to be an effective combination.
The first thing the viewer sees is a large bat flapping about inside a medieval castle. The bat then turns into the demon Mephistopheles who only has to point his finger to make a cauldron appear. He then commences to summon up skeletons, ghosts, witches and all manner of other nasties.
Also Known as: Manor of the Devil, The Devil’s Castle, The Devil’s Manor, The Haunted Castle, The House of the Devil, The Manor of the Devil - Keywords: Public Domain Movies, tagged, 1800s Horror Movie, Black and White Horror Movie, French Horror Movie, Silent Movie, Watch Online Horror Movie. Director: Georges Méliès.
Georges Méliès, born December 8, 1861, Paris, France - died January 21, 1938, Paris, was an early French experimenter with motion pictures, the first to film fictional narratives. When the first genuine movies, made by the Lumière brothers, were shown in Paris in 1895, Méliès, a professional magician and manager-director of the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, was among the spectators. The films were scenes from real life having the novelty of motion, but Méliès saw at once their further possibilities. He acquired a camera, built a glass-enclosed studio near Paris, wrote scripts, designed ingenious sets, and used actors to film stories. With a magician's intuition, he discovered and exploited the basic camera tricks: stop motion, slow motion, dissolve, fade-out, superimposition, and double exposure.
From 1899 to 1912 Méliès made more than 400 films, the best of which combine illusion, comic burlesque, and pantomime to treat themes of fantasy in a playful and absurd fashion. He specialized in depicting extreme physical transformations of the human body (such as the dismemberment of heads and limbs) for comic effect. His films included pictures as diverse as Cléopâtre (1899; “Cleopatra”), Le Christ marchant sur les eaux (1899; “Christ Walking on the Waters”), Le Voyage dans la lune (1902; “A Trip to the Moon”), Le Voyage à travers l'impossible (1904; “The Voyage Across the Impossible”); and Hamlet (1908). He also filmed studio reconstructions of news events as an early kind of newsreel. It never occurred to him to move the camera for close-ups or long shots. The commercial growth of the industry forced him out of business in 1913, and he died in poverty.
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