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The Pillar of Fire

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Wikipedia article

'The Pillar of Fire' , initially released in America and Britain as 'Haggard's "She"The Pillar of Fire' and also known as 'La Colonne de feu', is an 1899 short silent trick film directed by Georges Mlis.


A devil cavorts in a large fireplace, kindling a fire. Out of a giant skillet rises a young woman in voluminous white robes. As smoke rises in the fireplace, the woman begins a serpentine dance. Her skirts take on the appearance of flames until, finally, she disappears in a burst of fire.


'The Pillar of Fire' was the first film to be based on H. Rider Haggard's 1887 novel 'She: A History of Adventure'. Rather than attempting to tell the whole story of the novel, Mlis used one of its characters as inspiration for a trick film, recalling the scene in the novel in which Ayesha stands amid flames. At least six other adaptations of 'She' were made in the silent era.


The film was released by Mlis's Star Film Company and is numbered 188 in its catalogues. While the film was marketed in America and Britain as 'Haggard's She', emphasizing the connection with the popular novel, it was offered simply as 'Danse du feu' in France, with no mention of Haggard.

Like many of Mlis's films, 'The Pillar of Fire' was offered in a hand-colored print with coloring designed and directed by Elisabeth Thuillier. The surviving hand-colored print of the film is an ornate example of Thuillier's work for Mlis.


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