Les trésors de satan (1902)
Director: Georges Méliès
Cast: Georges Méliès
Synopsis: The setting of this fantastic scene represents the hall of an old chateau in which a miser has locked up seven large bags containing his wealth.
Georges Méliès once again assumes the role of Satan in Les trésors de satan (The Treasure of Satan). The Star Catalog’s description of the film suggests that Satan has entered the sparsely furnished chateau of a miser and hidden his seven bags of gold in a strong box not unlike the kind in which magicians place their assistants prior to making them disappear. Casting some kind of spell over his loot, Satan exits stage left just as the miser (probably Méliès again) appears to discover the theft. When he breaks open the lid of the box, the bags of money dance before him and then, after the lid closes and re-opens, are replaced by a number of comely young wenches, each of whom climbs from the box with one bag of the loot. To be honest, it could quite easily be that the second man is an opportunistic thief attempting to steal from the devil, which highlights just how careful even early filmmakers had to be to clearly explain what was taking place on the screen to their audiences. The poor chap’s grisly fate would certainly be more appropriate for a thief: forced back into the box, he’s presumably consigned to hell as we see him engulfed by flames that rise from his makeshift coffin.
Les trésors de satan features the usual Méliès tricks and showmanship. It must have been something of an ordeal for him, constantly having to come up with new ways of dressing up the same old tricks, and sometimes his endless search for ideas was apparent in the repetitive material that made it onto the screen. This film is quite entertaining however, it moves along at a breathless pace, enlivened by Méliès infectious enthusiasm and obvious desire to thrill and entertain.
(Reviewed 15th September 2014)