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FLASHBACK – The Monster (1903)

A 1903 film directed by French filmmaker Georges Méliès and, as is common with his films, starring the man himself. The story centres on the chaotic, and ultimately futile, attempt to bring a dead Egyptian Princess back to life.

An Egyptian prince has lost his beloved wife and he has sought a dervish who dwells at the base of the Sphinx. The prince promises him a vast fortune if the dervish will only give him the opportunity of gazing once more upon the features of his wife. The dervish accepts the offer. He brings in from a neighboring tomb the receptacle containing the remains of the princess. He opens it and removes the skeleton, which he places upon the ground close beside him. Then, turning to the moon and raising his arms outstretched toward it, he invokes the moon to give back life to her who is no more. The skeleton begins to move about, becomes animated, and arises. The dervish puts it upon a bench and covers it with a white linen; a masque conceals its ghostly face. At a second invocation, the skeleton begins again to move, arises, and performs a weird dance. In performing its contortions it partly disappears in the ground. While performing its feats it increases gradually in size, its neck assuming enormous proportions, much to the horror of the prince, who fails to see in this grotesque character the wife whom he has lost. The dance ceases. The dervish throws a veil over the hideous creature. Then appear the real princess as she was when her husband possessed her. The prince darts forward to take her into his arms to give her a last kiss, but the dervish stops him, wraps the young lady in the veil and throws her into the arms of the prince. When he removes the veil he finds only the skeleton of his former wife. The vision has disappeared, and the princess has returned to dust. The dervish withdraws, and the prince pursues him with his threats and curses.

(From the Georges Méliès Collection via Internet Archive).

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THE PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEW
THE PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEWhttps://publicdomainreview.org/
Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas. In particular, as our name suggests, the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to promote and celebrate the public domain in all its abundance and variety, and help our readers explore its rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond. With a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer – an archive of content which truly celebrates the breadth and diversity of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it. NOTE: This article was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it, please see Using Material From Our Site.

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