1906: 3 movies

posted 2012 July 21

Les incendiaires
Directed by Georges Méliès

   Allegedly, we're missing the beginning and end of this one, and it's still one of the closest examples of a perfect movie that I've seen! We are shown the full story of a crime, including the burning of a house, the chase of the arsonists, their capture, the jail time of one of the perpetrators, and his execution. What's most amazing is that the narrative is so thorough and detailed, and the violence so graphic that, by the end of the movie, I was left quite sick of the whole ordeal, while simultaneously feeling the buzz of having witnessed some great art. 
   Melies makes excellent use of his flair for special effects, and squeezes his editorializing subtly into one scene in which we see what fate the arsonist sees for himself. Wisely, Melies leaves it at that and lets us add up the parts for our own selves which allows us to feel their sum quite intensely. Not only is this the best movie of the year, and a strong candidate for Melies' best movie, but it's also a candidate for best movie in the entire canon.
   The title translates as "The arsonists".

La peine du talion
Directed by Gaston Velle

   A movie that contains nice stage decor and costumes, but it's the way the thrilling story is woven with ballet, special effects and brilliant coloring that really brings the glory. The story revolves around fantasy, justice, and a respect for insects. 
   The title translates from French as "The law of retaliation".

Les résultats du féminisme
Directed by Alice Guy
   Men would do the same thing if they were women. This movie puts us right in the mind-set of the turn-of-the-century suffragette with its envisioning of a world in which the female sex rules. The acting may be a little off but the scenarios are many, which kept me engaged, as did the mood alternating between the comic and the tragic. The last scene showing the men organizing and overthrowing their oppressors is a fabulously dizzying touch.
   The title translates as "The results of feminism".

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