Movie 21min

The Palace of Arabian Knights (1905)

Original title: Le palais des mille et une nuits
A young man wins the hand of a beautiful princess after a series of adventures.

+ 19 images
Director Georges Méliès
Country France
Language French
(Original) Le palais des mille et une nuits
(Alternative) The Palace of a Thousand and One Nights
(Country Spesific) El palacio de las mil y una noches
(USA, DVD, 2008) Flicker Alley
(USA, 1905) Georges Méliès
(France, 1905) Star-Film
Adventure Altar Black and White Cave Costume Drama Fantasy Hindu Priest Hinduism Insence Love Magic Rajah Shiva Short Silent Film Temple Treasure Trick Film Wedding

A poor but honest young man wins the hand of a beautiful Princess after facing a series of exciting adventures involving apparitions, cartwheeling skeletons, a dragon, and plump dancing girls from the Folies Bergere.

30 Scenes
From the Star-Film catalog.
The Rajah’s Audience
Into a superb hall the court enters and each takes his place. The Rajah arrives and ascends to his throne; the queen follows accompanied by her daughter, the princess. Then comes in the prince who has asked an audience of the Rajah.
The Prince Asks to Marry the Princess Aouda
The Rajah listens to the desires of the prince who confesses his love for Aouda and then asks for her in marriage. The Rajah becomes enraged at the request of the prince, for the latter has no money; and besides, he has promised his daughter to his old friend, the usurer Holdfast, whose wealth is fabulous. The princess, because of her great love for Charming, begs her father to renounce the marriage with the old man whom she holds in horror. But her father is relentless and orders the guards to drive away the prince and his suite; in spite of the tears of his daughter, he insists that his orders must be executed.
Prince Charming’s Chamber
The prince, accompanied by his friends, reenters his apartment and gives himself up to his grief. He refuses the consolations of his friends and drives the latter away, preferring to be alone. He sinks down upon a seat placed near a table upon which an incense burner is sending forth wreaths of fragrant smoke. Charming weeps bitterly. With an unintentional movement he overturns the incense-burner which falls to the floor sending forth thick clouds of smoke out of which there gradually appears the sorcerer, Khalafar.
The Sorcerer Khalafar and the Enchanted Sword
The prince, accompanied by his friends, reenters his apartment and gives himself up to his grief. He refuses the consolations of his friends and drives the latter away, preferring to be alone. He sinks down upon a seat placed near a table upon which an incense burner is sending forth wreaths of fragrant smoke. Charming weeps bitterly. With an unintentional movement he overturns the incense-burner which falls to the floor sending forth thick clouds of smoke out of which there gradually appears the sorcerer, Khalafar.
The Temple of Siva - Buddhist Rites - The Vestal Virgins
Some Buddhist priests are on the point of terminating a ceremony of sacrifice upon the altar of Siva. All around the temple sacred vases are sending forth streams of perfumed smoke. The vestal virgins on their knees are praying to the goddess. After the ceremony the priests bear away the remains of the sacrificial victim; the vestals follow after in procession and disappear when they have thrown flowers upon the altar. The sorcerer, Khalafar, after having assured himself that the temple is entirely empty, leads the prince up to the altar. When he has forced the followers of the prince to retire
they in their curiosity have kept close to his heels-he urges the prince to fall upon his knees at the feet of the goddess and to supplicate her to provide him with the means whereby he may acquire the treasure.
The Miracle of Siva
Charming invokes Siva. The statue of the goddess becomes animated imperceptibly. She grands the prayer of the prince, and at once makes a most extraordinary Indian pavilion emerge from the ground.
The Boatmen of the Sacred Rive
The draperies which close the entrance to the pavilion are separated, and there come forth a group of boatmen who place themselves at the service of Charming upon his voyage.
The Blue Dwarf
Some Brahmins, at the command of the goddess, bring forth a magic vase crowned with an enchanted plant. The plant opens and is transformed into a curiously fantastic frame, from the middle of which emerges a grotesque dwarf who is no other than the chief of the boatmen of the sacred river. Charming hesitates to accompany this extraordinary being, but the goddess orders him not to delay a moment and to blindly obey the various guides whom she is going to send along. The dwarf leads out the prince who is followed by the boatmen. His friends dog the foot-steps of the boatmen hoping to find out where he is being led; they consider him a fool to risk himself thus in so hazardous an adventure into the unknown regions.
The Banks of the Sacred River
Upon the banks of a marvelous river upon the surface of which are reflected the Indian palaces with their fascinating architecture, one sees arrive the Highpriest of the magic forest who having been fore warned, comes to meet Charming. The Highpriest is accompanied by the Protecting Nymphs of the forest-a forest into which no mortal his permitted to penetrate.
The Gondola of the Blue Dwarf
The gondola of the Blue dwarf arrives. The bow is ornamented with a lovely head and neck of a swan. Upon the prow there sits a fascinating fairy holding the standard of the Blue dwarf. The oarsmen bring the boat to the side of the quay. Under a magnificent canopy placed in the middle of the boat, there are gathered Prince Chaming, his suite and the Blue dwarf. Upon the stern is the pilot. (This scene is most dazzlingly beautiful).
Procession of the High-Priest and the Protecting Nymphs of the Magic Forest
The dwarf disembarks and confides the prince and his suite to the new guides. The latter set out in a procession and lead Charming toward the magic forest. The dwarf, having ended his mission, mounts into the gondola and goes away.
The Magic Forest
The High-priest leads the prince to the borders of the magic forest. It is impenetrable. Century-plants, lotuses, palms, phoenixes, all the specimens of oriental vegetation intertwine themselves into an inextricable network. The stems and branches of the various plants are so interwoven that passage is impossible. Suddenly, at the command of the High-priest, the trees begin to move. First the long stems begin to disentangle themselves, then the branches gradually and imperceptibly separate, revealing other intertwined plants which in their turn dislodge themselves. Some old Buddhist statues crumbling from decay settle down into the ground, the long dangling stems rise up to the topmost branches, the wild animals disturbed in their lairs sneak docilely away. And finally the last trees bursting apart disclose the ruinous entrance to the wonderful caverns. And there at the opening is the fairy of gold resplendently beautiful as a statue.
The Entrance of the Wonderful Caverns - The Fairy of Gold
The guardians of the forest rejoin the High-priest; the prince’s friends gather closely around him. The fairy of gold, taking a lighted torch, commands the prince to follow. Charming and his friends penetrate into the cavern. The High-priest, having finished his mission, traverses again the forest with his suite, the guardians of it, following. The trees of the forest close behind them as densely tangled as at first. (This decoration which was made only after considerable labor is a veritable marvel of achievement. It possesses a great artistic beauty).
Descent into the Crystal Grotto
A dazzling grotto with a thousand sparkling facets. A spiral way winds down from the top of the picture even to the bowels of the earth. Guards stationed at regular intervals watch over the road absolutely unknown to the mortals. The fairy descends slowly with an imposing gait, followed by the prince and his suite. One of the personages of the suite, astonished at the immobility of the guards, becomes a little facetious before one of them, but the terrifying attitude of the latter instantly precipitates him into flight.
The Crystal Grotto
The personages arrive at a striking grotto in which crystal stalactites depend from all sides. The floor is strewn with a lot of antique columns in ruins. They advance with precaution in this unexplored place, the fairy of gold having disappeared and left them momentarily abandoned to themselves. Suddenly they hear a mysterious noise, and seized with a panic they hide behind the ruins of broken columns. They are hardly concealed when the genii of fire begin to manifest their presence; and they make ready to resist and oppose with force the intrusion of the profane.
The Genii of Fire. Guardians of the Treasures
The grotto is suddenly invaded by mysterious beings who hurl from all sides torrents of fire and sparks. Deflagrations and numerous explosions mingled with fantastic apparitions take place, filling the cavern with sulphurous vapors. Then suddenly the place becomes silent.
The Will-o’the-Wisps
The prince and his suite, being reassured at hearing nothing any more, emerge from their hiding-places, but a frightful explosion suddenly takes place and hurls them all to the ground. They get up and are appalled at the terrifying dance in the air of the will-o’the-wisps and sparkling flames. They look for an outlet from this dangerous passage.
The Phantoms - A Spectre Combat
In a twinkling of the eye the cavern is invaded with shadowy spectres which come out of nothing; they begin a wild dance. The prince and his suite rush upon the phantoms but they go through them and are not able to seize them. They wind up by running against one another while the phantoms vanish. They recognize their error; and huddling close to one another, they leave the grotto.
The Miraculous Caves
The personages penetrate into the ruins of a vast subterranean temple the colonnades of which extend far into the distance until they are lost from sight. (Exact reproduction of the celebrated “Elephantine Cave” in British India). After assuring themselves that they are alone, they examine the places where chance has brought them.
The Fantastical Dragon and the Toads
The earth yawns and gives passage to a dragon whose enormous mouth vomits forth flames and sparks. The prince’s friends are astounded and flee, leaving him alone. The latter, faithful to the promise which he has made to the sorcerer, Khalafar, remains firm, and arming himself with the magic sword, forces the terrible beast to retreat into the earth. He afterwards struggles with a host of enormous toads which emerge from all sides and again he puts them to flight.
The Monsters of Stone
The toads, standing on their hind legs, are transformed into monsters of stone. From one of these comes out the enchanter, Khalafar, who compliments the prince on his courage, and announces to him that he will receive his treasures as a reward; the horrible visions are going to terminate and give way to some charming apparitions; the period of trial is over, and, henceforth, Charming will advance from surprise to surprise.
The Mysterious Lotus Leaves
Imperceptibly the monsters of stone are changed into lotus leaves which slowly unfold one after the other. The fairy of gold springs out of one and ascends into the air.
The Goddesses of the Lower World
the other leaves, upon opening, let out other goddesses of the lower regions, companions of the fairy of gold. When the transformation has been effected, an apotheosis is thus most charmingly formed.
The Fountain of Fire
The ruins of the temple slowly fade away to give place to a magnificent rotunda supported by richly decorated columns. The group of goddesses disappears in its turn and is transformed into a bewitching fountain upon the shelves of which charming young girls and living sphinxes are symmetrically arranged. From their hands come forth jets of sparks which fall in cascades into the basins of the fountain.
The Temple of Gold
At this instant there springs up from the ground a temple of surpassing splendor which increases in height and breadth until it completely covers the picture. The doors fly open, and a group of dancers representing nymphs of gold come out and seek the goddess, and escort her into the temple.
The Palace of the Arabian Nights
After the entry of the prince the temple disappears beneath the soil, and accompanied by the nymphs, he advances into the Palace of the Arabian Nights, the temple of gold being merely a vestibule to it. There a splendid spectacle greets his eyes. The palace lies before him with its thousand glistening columns, stretching far into the distance, all gleaming in the many colored rays of the myriad lamps. Everywhere hang ropes of precious stones all sparkling-a truly enchanting scene of surpassing splendor. The prince takes his seat upon a throne which the nymphs have prepared for him.
The Fairy of Gold and the Fairy Vaults
The fairy of gold reappears; at her command, a huge vault adorned with living personages in picturesque poses comes into view, created out of nothing. The prince darts forward, but instantly become despairing when he finds that the strongly bound vault is firmly locked. He returns to his seat at the request of the fairy, who then waves her wand and thus opens the sides of the vault.
The Acquisition of the Treasures
The fairy of gold tells the prince that his courage has been rewarded by the bestowal upon him of the magic vaults with their fabulous riches. Henceforth he is its sole and rightful proprietor.
Grand Display of the Treasures
At this moment, before the astonished eyes of the prince, there files out of the vault a sumptuous cortège of Bayadères, vestals priestesses, and others, bearing upon litters treasures of princeless value. Chests filled with gold, vases adorned with precious stones, necklaces, jewels, and vessels of gold and of silver, comprise a stupefying mass. The prince cannot believe his own eyes when the strong treasure vault is transformed into a rich palanquin, borne by four Indian servants, upon which he is invited to sit. The cortège starts upon its way followed by a considerable number of servitors who are to become the retinue of Charming. The latter thanks the fairy of gold and moves away. And finally the fairy herself, with her nymphs, disappears imperceptibly from view.
Return to the Palace of the Rajah and the Marriage of the Prince
The day of the marriage of the princess has arrived. The usurer, Holdfast, accompanied by his witnesses, presents himself at the gate of the palace to bear away the princess, his fiancée. The latter, with her father and mother appears; she is supported by her attendants and is all in tears. At the moment when the Rajah is about to present his daughter to the old man, a sounding of trumpets bursts forth. There is general surprise. An imposing cortège approaches, it is the prince with all his riches and his servitors. The Rajah cannot believe his eyes; dazzled by so many treasures of wealth, he takes back his promise which he had given to the usurer, and bestows upon the prince the hand of his daughter. The userer, under the press of the crowd, is thrown out of the enclosure of the palace. The heralds proclaim the marriage of the prince who ascends to the terrace of the palace where he receives the felicitations and the oaths of his people, amid the wildest acclamations.
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Georges Méliès - The Sorcerer Khalafar
Georges Méliès - Production Design
Georges Méliès - Editor
Georges Méliès - Producer
Georges Méliès - Director
Big project of the time

I wish I liked it more because this has the doings of a great adventure film, but too bad for the silent time - it did not quite work so well here. It is all too messy in its try to be a big movie - partly due to the sets and partly because of the coloring and maybe the quality of the preserved film. I can understand the go of the film, but nothing is really clear until I read the Star-Film description. There are lots of high points in this ambitious project for sure, but in the end, it is just a longer average Melies film set in India.