The Temptation Of Saint Anthony (1898)
Original title: La tentation de Saint-Antoine
(Original) La tentation de Saint-Antoine
One of the first religious-themed films by Méliès, about the pious St. Anthony who is tormented by visions of seductive women while reading in his cave.
In his cave, the hermit Saint Anthony prays before an effigy of the crucified Christ. A scantily-clad woman suddenly appears, and St Anthony shields his eyes from the sight of temptation. She vanishes, and he recommences reading the Bible. Two women appear either side of him, and he recoils in horror. They vanish, and he picks up a skull from the base of the cross. However, when he kisses it, it turns into another woman, with two more appearing in quick succession. They dance in a ring around the tormented Saint Anthony before vanishing. A desperate Saint Anthony kneels before Christ, who turns into another woman. But an angel also appears, to which Saint Anthony turns with undisguised relief. The woman vanishes and Christ reappears.
Source: Star Film Catalogue No. 169
I found this early trick film by Melies quite a fascinating early production. It is one scene only, but very effective usage of the scene and the one minute the film lasts. St. Anthony is tempted by women while reading and in prayer, and even Jesus is the cross is turned into a temptress. In the end, an angel appears and everything turns back to normal showing us that Anthony overcame the temptation.