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Cinderella (1899 film)

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Wikipedia article

'Cinderella' is an 1899 French film directed by Georges Mlis, based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault. It was released by Mlis's Star Film Company and is numbered 219224 in its catalogues, where it is advertised as a 'grande ferie extraordinaire en 20 tableaux'.


The casts of Mlis's films are in many cases unidentified. Most of the following listing is based on cast identifications made by the film scholars Georges Sadoul, Jacques Malthte, and Laurent Mannoni.

*Mlle Barral as Cinderella. Barral had also acted in Mlis's bedroom farce 'The Bridegroom's Dilemma' earlier that year.Malthte & Mannoni, p. 94

*Bleuette Bernon as the Fairy Godmother. Mlis discovered Bernon in the 1890s, when she was performing as a singer at the cabaret L'Enfer. Her appearance in 'Cinderella' is contemporaneous with her performances at the Eldorado cabaret. She also appeared as Phoebe, the woman on the crescent moon, in Mlis's famous 'A Trip to the Moon'.

*Carmelli as the Prince. Carmelli was an actor at Mlis's theater of stage illusions, the Thtre Robert-Houdin in Paris.

*Jehanne d'Alcy as the Prince's mother, the Queen. D'Alcy had achieved success in theatrical productions by 1896, but left the stage to devote herself to film, becoming one of the first performers to do so. She appeared in many of Mlis's films and later became his second wife.

*Dupeyron as a party guest.

*Georges Mlis as the genie of the midnight clock, and as a halberdier. All told, Mlis took an acting role in at least 300 of his 520 films.Malthte & Mannoni, p. 88


's illustrations were influential to Mlis

Mlis modeled the film's visual style on the engravings of Gustave Dor, who had illustrated the story for an edition of Perrault's fairy tales. (Dor was stylistically influential across Mlis's career, especially in this film and in his film adaptations of four other works Dor had illustrated: 'Red Riding Hood', 'Blue Beard', 'The Wandering Jew', and 'Baron Munchausen's Dream'.) The direct inspiration for the film of 'Cinderella' was probably a stage adaptation premiered in 1896 by the Thtre de la Galerie-Vivienne and played by the Troupe Raymond at Mlis's own theatre of illusions, the Thatre Robert-Houdin, at Christmastime of 1897.Frazer, p. 220 Mlis may also have been inspired by the Thtre du Chtelet's lavish 1895 stage production of the story.Frazer, p. 7

'Cinderella' was Mlis's first film with multiple scenes ('tableaux'), using six distinct sets and five changes of scene within the film. (His catalogue, by dividing the action into smaller beats, lists twenty 'tableaux' within the film, a generous numbering probably devised for publicity reasons.) So many extras were used in 'Cinderella' that Mlis designated a Chief Extra to lead them. The film's special effects were created with multiple exposures, dissolves, and substitution splices.


'Cinderella' was Mlis's first major cinematic success.Malthte & Mannoni, p. 106 It did well both in French fairground cinemas and at European and American music-halls, and inspired Mlis to create other lavishly designed storytelling films with multiple scenes. His next film with multiple scenes, 'Joan of Arc' (1900), was his first to surpass 200 meters of film in length, and was also a marked success. According to the film historian Lewis Jacobs, 'Cinderella's use of spectacle on screen also influenced the films of Cecil B. DeMille.

Mlis made another adaptation of the story, 'Cinderella or the Glass Slipper', in 1912 under the supervision of Path Frres. This version was not a success, partially because of directorial conflict between Mlis, Ferdinand Zecca, and Charles Path, and partially because Mlis's theatrical style had fallen out of fashion by 1912.


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