La Poule aux Œufs d’Or
R: Gaston Velle. K: Segundo de Chomón. D: Julienne Mathieu. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1905
“Director Gaston Velle worked with Segundo de Chomon, one of the world’s first special effects artists, on a number of Pathé films. This film is notable for the combination of brilliant stencilled colour and wild effects, while giving close attention to the fable or moral nature of the story being told.
This tale of the hen that laid the golden eggs is a familiar fairytale. The film tells it in four acts: ‘The Conjurer’s Lottery’, ‘The Fantastic Fowls-House’, ‘Ephemeral Fortune’ and ‘The Miser’s Fate’. La Poule aux Œufs d’Or provide plenty of opportunity to pause and revel in fantastic displays, such as when the golden hen turns into a lovely woman, who in turn transforms her fellow chickens into a troupe of elegant dancers. The magic and the mood turn dark when thieves try to steal the eggs and the farmer is driven mad by greed, his paranoia arrestingly depicted as he is surrounded by surreal disembodied eyes.
The film’s epilogue is a fanciful display of magic as the barnyard turns into a fairyland and golden eggs hatch to reveal beautiful women, made even more so through the use of intricate stencilling and liberally-applied, still vibrant dyes.”
La peine du Talion
R: Gaston Velle. D: Fernand Rivers. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906
A stencil-coloured effects film
“At the turn of the 20th century, with cinema still in its infancy, there blossomed a short lived form of film called ‘scènes de féeries’ or fairy films. Made famous by the groundbreaking French Pathé Frères company, these curiosities brought the lavish thrills of the theatre to the big screen. They utilised the painted backdrops, elaborate costumes and stage tricks that were popular at the time, while using the power of film to create some even more unbelievable magic to fresh faced viewers. To further add to the spectacle, the film makers also added colour to these films, utilising tinting and hand-stencilling to bring more life to their imagery. (…)
This is a sweet little story where a butterfly collector and his two attractive female assistants are captured by butterflies, who make judgement on the collector, punishing him by pinning him to a mushroom to show him how it feels. He promptly smashes his butterfly net and everyone lives happily ever after! I enjoyed this simple tale quite a bit and the use of colour is nice too.”
>>>Gaston Velle’s Un drame dans les airs on this site: Jules Verne and Gaston Velle