Movie 9min

The Clock-Maker's Secret (1907)

Original title: Le Secret de l'horloger
The town-crier summons the inhabitants of the town and they read a manifesto which is posted on a wall announcing the fact that at 4 o'clock on that day the Lord Mayor will receive bids for the building of a town clock.

+ 3 images
Director Gaston Velle
Country France
Language French
(Original) Le Secret de l'horloger
(Country Spesific) Das Geheimnis des Uhrmachers
(France) Pathé Frères
(US Import) Pathé Frères
Angels Black and White Dancing Drama Fantasy Pact with the Devil Short Silent Film The Devil Trick Film

The town-crier summons the inhabitants of the town and they read a manifesto which is posted on a wall announcing the fact that at 4 o'clock on that day the Lord Mayor will receive bids for the building of a town clock. One of those who reads it is an old clockmaker, who, stopping before the placard, reflects long and thoughtfully before putting in his bid for the work. While he thus stands the devil appears on the scene and hands him a drawing showing a clock of exquisite workmanship such as could never have been fashioned by human hands. The old man accepts this design from the evil one and is next seen competing with other clock-makers for the work. Of course his bid is accepted and the Mayor instructs him to begin his work at once. He is how seen in his shop, tinkering with springs and wheels and other mechanism, when suddenly Mephisto appears again. The latter presents a paper to the old man, which he finds on reading to be a contract so drawn up that if he, the clock-maker, agrees to same, the wonderful clock will be his, but at the price of his own soul, which the devil proposes to take into his own keeping. The clockmaker at first refuses vehemently to consider such a proposition, but the devil with some mysterious passing of the hands causes all of the Roman figures on the clock to appear as in a tableau and execute a pretty dance, after which they quickly vanish. Again he proffers the contract, but the old man is still steadfast in his refusal, but Satan, not to be thwarted in his wicked designs, causes to appear another tableau which shows a shop of flaming fire, in which the devil and his emissaries are at work with anvil and forge molding the parts of the clock. Suddenly the scene changes and the wonderful piece of mechanism is seen complete and perfect. The clock-maker is bewildered and tries to move toward it, but the devil intercepts him and then the entire scene disappears. With the image of the wonderful clock whirling in his brain, the old man accepts the proposition of Mephisto and signs the contract, but while he is in the act of affixing his signature to the document, his daughter slips unseen into the room and witnesses his act. Now the devil leads his victim out into the public square and bringing his infernal power into play causes the gigantic timepiece to rise to its proper place. The Mayor now appears and seeing the marvelous clock orders the town crier to summon the inhabitants of the town, who quickly gather around in mute admiration. On the appearance of the old man, the supposed creator of this wonderful work, he is quickly raised from the ground and borne on the shoulders of the jubilant and admiring crowd. This happy scene, however, is not of long duration, for the old man's daughter coming in upon them upbraids her father for his act in contracting with the devil and raising her hand hurls a rock at the face of the clock, smashing it completely. Now Mephisto appears to claim the old man's soul, but the daughter, aware of his intention, draws, forth a cross, at the sight of which the evil spirit takes flight. The exposure of his wickedness and dishonesty causes the old clockmaker to lose his reason, and he soon becomes a raving maniac. He is next seen at a tavern, where he happens to see a clock, which he dashes to the ground in maniacal fury. It seems that the devil still has control over the old man, for when they are gathered together and he raises his cup to drink, his glass as well as those of the other guests seems filled with flame instead of liquid. The old man now becomes violent and tears around the room in a rage. One now sees the delusions of the unfortunate man's diseased brain, which cause a wine cask to become a clock, and then change into a hideous human visage. The next scene shows the old clockmaker in his home, where all manner of imps persist in tormenting him, and finally the devil himself appears and mockingly flaunts the signed contract before his agonized victim. The old man's daughter now comes in and endeavors to help her father, but Mephisto is obdurate and is just about to seize the aged man when the Angel of Light and Truth descends with flaming sword and quickly routs the evil one. The last scene of the film is symbolic of the angel's victory over the devil. Here a pretty tableau is seen, which terminates with a picture of the Angel pointing to the ground, where the devil lies crouching and quivering with fear.

Source: The Moving Picture World, November 30, 1907

A town crier announces to the inhabitants of the city that at 4 p.m. the mayor will receive the proposals to build a clock at the town hall. An old watchmaker stopped in front of the poster. While he is reading, the devil appears to him and shows him the drawing of a clock that no human hand can ever make. He takes the drawing and enters the competition. His project is, of course, accepted and the Mayor asks him to start immediately. The old man is in his workshop. The devil appears to him again. He offers to allow her to build the marvelous clock against his soul. The old man refuses. The devil then shows him in a painting all the figures of ancient Romans that would appear on the clock and disappear. The devil renews his proposal but the man still refuses. Then Satan shows him a forge in which he and his helpers are working and suddenly the entire clock appears, magnificent! The watchmaker takes a step forward but everything disappears. He therefore accepts and signs. But his daughter, without being seen, witnesses the act. The devil then leads his victim to the public garden and there invites the inhabitants to come and admire the work. The whole population cheers the old man. But this joy does not last. The watchmaker's daughter arrives and reproaches him for his act. Then, she forcefully throws a large stone at the clock and smashes it entirely. Mephisto appears claiming his due but the girl presents him with a cross and the devil disappears. All this was too hard for the old man who is going crazy. In a tavern, he causes a scandal. At one point, his tormented soul thinks he sees a clock instead of a barrel of wine which instantly changes into a hideous human face. Satan, therefore, does not let go of his victim and presents himself to him while he is dying. The daughter arrives and tries again to help her father but Mephisto is stubborn, and he is about to grab the old clockmaker's soul when the Angel of Light and Truth descends with a flaming sword and finally makes the devil flee.

Source: Pathe Freres - Translated

In a narrow street (medieval style), an old man is followed by a devil (goatee, cocked hat, bloomers). This one speaks to him and gives him a paper with the drawing of a clock on it. The watchmaker thanks him and leaves. The devil jumps for joy and disappears. In his workshop, the watchmaker cannot work. It is then that the devil appears, wrapped in his cape. He shows him a pact which the old man throws down. To tempt him, Satan makes dancers appear then disappear. The watchmaker always refuses, so the devil makes workers who work in the watchmaker's workshop appear then disappear. The old man ends up signing the pact. His daughter enters and leaves immediately, horrified, while the devil, satisfied, makes the watchmaker come out into the street to show him a magnificent clock rising from the ground. Once the watchmaker returns home, imps appear in the street and dance around the devil, torches in hand.

A little later, in the street, an important man (large wig, decorated cane, worked suit) arrives with his court and discovers the clock. The whole town rushes to admire the object and acclaim the watchmaker when suddenly, the latter's daughter arrives and destroys the clock. The devil appears, the girl hands him a crucifix to kill him and faints. In a tavern, two men are going to duel when the watchmaker arrives. The customers drink a glass to their health when the glasses catch fire, all the customers flee except our protagonist who, wanting to help himself to a drink, drills a hole in a barrel which turns into a clock and then into the head of a devil. Back in his studio, he seems relieved but four figures with clock heads appear, dance, and disappear. The man falls to the ground and dies. His daughter comes in, finds him, and starts crying until the devil comes and claims the soul of the deceased. The young girl refuses, an angel appears accompanied by dancers (damaged film at this point). The clock appears in the center and then turns into a moon. Ballet of dancers tapping on bells.

Source: GP Archives - Translated

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Segundo de Chomón - Cinematography
Gaston Velle - Director
Doing deals with the Devil is no good

Taking Melies "Devil" ideas a step further, adding in a bit of Faustian narrative, and you have this film about a clockmaker that makes a deal with the Devil. Having a narrative makes it better than most previous Devil trick films, although it is still a long way to go in order to be a creative masterpiece. The clock dancers are also a nice touch in the film to add some ballet entertainment. I kind of liked it.