The Good, The Bad and The Critic

Established on March 19th, 2012 and pioneered by film fanatic Michael J. Carlisle. The Good, The Bad and The Critic will analyze classic and contemporary films from all corners of the globe. This title references Sergei Leone's influential spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review #890: Kingdom of the Fairies (1903)

Title: Kingdom of the Fairies
Year: 1903
Director: Georges Melies

Country: France
Language: N/A

By 1901 Georges Melies was at the peak of his popularity. He had been making well over 100 films since he first started in 1895, attaining financial and critical success along the way. Though there wasn't that much competition, he did prove himself to be a competent film-maker and was making great effort to improve the special effects of his films. 1902's A Trip to the Moon brought him into the international spotlight; from there he was able to make notable ground in the United States. 

At the royal court, a prince is presenting the princess whom he is pledged to marry, when a witch suddenly appears. Though driven off, the witch soon returns, summons some of her servants, and carries off the princess.

Widely distributed and promoted like no other film before it, Kingdom of the Fairies has been cited as the best film Melies has ever made. Thankfully the film still survives in its hand-colored form. Mme Thulliers and her team of girls were responsible for coloring each frame—each girl was assigned a different color—and they provided this service for the majority of the French film industry. The film is widely reported as being based on either the stage works, by the Brothers Cogniard or Nicolas Brazier, Pierre-Frédéric-Adolphe Carmouche and Jean-Baptiste Dubois but apparently (because I haven't seen the plays) little similarity exists. 

What a visual spectacle! Kingdom of the Fairies is an intoxicating beautiful film that captures a wonderous atmosphere in every frame. This is, I feel, the most accessible of Melies pictures simply because of the sheer showmanship involved. The underwater scenes, which include fish, giant crabs and an octopus, are a sight to behold. I'm impressed despite this film being made well over 110 years ago! 

This is my favourite Melies. It is a fairy tale in every sense of the word. It has inspired the hearts and imaginations of generations to come.There are a lot of different sets for a film of this age. Many of them are quite elaborate and detailed. Though many silents at this time were somewhat difficult to follow considering the absence of intertitles, I viewed this with great ease. 

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