Movie 5min

Satan In Prison (1907)

Original title: Satan en prison

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Director Georges Méliès
Country France
Language French
(Original) Satan en prison
(Alternative) Satan in Jail
(USA, 1907) Georges Méliès
Black and White Comedy Fantasy Magic Prison Short Silent Film Surprise The Devil Trick Film

A well-dressed gentleman is thrown into a barren cell by a jail keeper and left there. It develops that this gentleman is none other than the chief of the regions below, and he now proceeds to furnish his room in proper style. First he causes a fireplace to appear in its proper place and then from somewhere in the atmosphere he snatches ornaments which he places thereon. From his coat tails he takes a large picture and makes enough other pictures from this to hang around the walls. In quick succession, and in the most curious ways, he fixes up a table with white cloth and viands, the dishes for which he extracts from his silk hat. He is just about to begin to eliminate the food when it occurs to him that he ought to have a companion. He takes a dress and hat from somewhere and places them in their proper position on a chair, and in a second a smiling little lady is sipping wine with him in the most approved fashion. While they are thus engaged the jailer enters, and alarmed goes off for help. While he is gone Mephisto causes the lady to disappear and then raging about the room causes all the furnishings to disappear in as many curious ways as he had employed to place them in the room. The two jailers enter just in time to see him dive through the fireplace. They attempt to pursue him but they are thrown to the ground suddenly by a burst of flame, from which Mephisto appears, garbed in all the fiery splendor of his domain. He vanishes just as suddenly and naught is left the jailers but to limp off, nursing their bruises.

Source: Star-Film Catalog

The title is vital, since the bulk of the action consists of a well-dressed man magically producing a series of items to furnish a bare room, culminating in his summoning up a charming lady to share his meal. Hearing the guards approaching, the man reverses the process, ending with a bare room when the two men enter.

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Georges Méliès - Satan
Georges Méliès - Producer
Georges Méliès - Director
Meleis is adding narrative to trick films

In 1907 Melies was becoming much more mature, and his trick films had evolved to be quite good and have a narrative to them as well. Here a person is put in prison, and he starts making things appear until the prison guards come in and he quickly dismantles everything only to, in the end, reveal that he was Satan himself. The film is quick-witted and quite fun, and it is quite a high point when The Devil reveals himself. I see it as a matured Melies that still have fun with filmmaking.