Friday, June 24, 2011

Création de la Serpentine (1908, France)

Fourteen years earlier, Thomas Edison's company had filmed the Serpentine dance -- a woman in a flowing road, waving arms around, producing pretty geometric patterns -- as the entire point of SERPENTINE DANCE. But the movies had moved on, and in this movie, Segundo de Chomon uses it as a point of grammar in this rather confused, although interesting film. We get scenery, with a fiddler playing as 18th century patrons do a minuet; we get some Melies moments as the devil appears, makes the dancers vanish and takes the fiddler to pandemonium, where they produce an entire corps de ballet doing the serpentine dance. It's quite lovely.
But it's clear that De Chomon was trying to integrate these elements and produce a story, using these bits as grammatical devices. And the story is a bit muddled. Is dance the product of the devil? Are the dancers imps tempting the audience into evil?

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