Soñar despierto / Superstition andalouse
R / B / K: Segundo de Chomón. P: Ibérico Film / Pathé Frères. Sp / Fr 1912
This film was written, directed, and photographed (plus special effects and tinting) by Segundo de Chomón. Distribution: Pathé Frères. Quoted by the Filmographie Pathé as “scène de conte”, a kind of scenic narrative.
“Segundo de Chomón (1871-1929) became involved in film through his wife, who was an actress in Pathé films. In 1902 he became a concessionary for Pathé in Barcelona, distributing its product in Spanish-speaking countries, and managing a factory for the colouring of Pathé films. He began shooting actuality films of Spanish locations for the company, then 1905 moved to Paris where he became a trick film specialist. The body of work he created over five years was outstanding. Films such as Le Spectre Rouge, Kiriki – Acrobates Japonais, Le Voleur Invisible and Une Excursion Incohérente are among the most imaginative and technically accomplished of their age. De Chomón created fantastical narratives embellished with ingenious effects, gorgeous colour, innovative hand-drawn and puppet animation, tricks of the eye that surprise and delight, and startling turns of surreal imagination (see, for example, the worms that crawl out of a chocolate cake in Une Excursion Incohérente, one of a number of films where visitors or tourists are beset by nightmarish haunted buildings, a favourite de Chomón theme).”
The genius of Segundo de Chomón
“This short movie saves most of its special effects for the end, when the woman’s lover is trapped in a strange room with bottles containing various nightmarish demons. Yet there is one special effect early on that is particularly striking. When the woman begins to envision the gypsy’s revenge in her mind, it opens with the woman’s face as she ponders, and then her face moves nearer to us while the background remains static. This is not a new trick; I’m willing to bet it’s similar to the one used by Méliès in L’homme à la tête de caoutchouc (The Man with the Rubber Head). What makes it striking here is that the purpose of the trick is to give us a sense of her mental state, and I don’t recall a movie from before this date that used special effects for that purpose before.”
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