Le château hanté (1897)
Director: Georges Méliès
Cast: Georges Méliès
Synopsis: A man dressed in red is ushered into an antechamber in a Castle and offered a seat. When he tried to sit down the chair moves to the other side of the room causing the man to fall…
French special effects wizard Georges Méliès’ 1897 short Le château hanté (The Haunted Castle) is often confused with his similar 1896 movie Le manoir du diable, which is hardly surprising seeing as it appears to use the same set as the aforementioned film and is, to all intents and purposes, a remake. Le château hanté isn’t quite as ambitious as its predecessor, however, clocking in at just a modest 40-something seconds. Le château hanté does outshine Le manoir du diable in one respect, though: one of the existing prints is hand-coloured, with the outfit of the main character, played by the indefatigable Méliès, who also directed and edited, painted red. The plume of feathers on the helmet of a suit of armour in the background is also tinted the same colour. It’s a simple effect which enhances what is otherwise an unremarkable film. That’s not to say that Le château hanté isn’t more than comparable to other films produced in the same year, it’s simply that Méliès made so many of these thematically similar films that each individual film’s impact is diminished as a result. The story has Méliès’ character tormented by some playful poltergeist which eventually reveals itself to be the Devil himself.
(Reviewed 6th August 2014)