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Rip's Dream

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Wikipedia article

'Rip's Dream' ( ) is a 1905 French silent film directed by Georges Mlis.



'Rip's Dream' is based on two sources: the original 1819 "Rip Van Winkle" story by Washington Irving, and the 1882 operetta version of 'Rip Van Winkle' (with music by Robert Planquette and libretto by Henri Meilhac, Philippe Gille, and Henry Brougham Farnie). Two elements, the mysterious snake and the village idiot, are Mlis's own creations.

Mlis himself plays Rip. His son Andr appears as a village child carrying a large lantern. (Rip's friends' lanterns are in fact Bastille Day celebratory lanterns with the initials RF, for Rpublique franaise, clearly marked upon them.)

Like many of Mlis's films made around 1905, 'Rip's Dream' revels in theatricality. While some of Mlis's earlier major films, such as 'The Impossible Voyage' and 'The Kingdom of the Fairies', had experimented with innovative cinematic continuity techniques, these later films are based fully upon the storytelling traditions of the stage. According to recollections by Andr Mlis, the snake was a "gadget" his father had brought back from England, worked by wires and springs. The snake scene was done on a raked stage to allow the gadget's movements to be seen more clearly. Some of the ghosts in the dream sequence are actors wearing white sheets; others are silhouettes cut out of cardboard. Other effects in the film were created using stage machinery, substitution splices, and dissolves.

Release and reception

The film was released by Mlis's Star Film Company and numbered 756775 in its catalogues, where it was described as a 'grande pice fantastique en 17 tableaux'. For Mlis's more complex films, it was expected that a summary of the action, known as a 'boniment', would be read aloud during projection to help viewers follow the plot. A 'boniment' published by Mlis in 1905 for 'Rip's Dream' survives in the archives of the Cinmathque Franaise.

A 1981 Mlis study produced by the Centre national du cinma highlighted the carefully introduced and constructed dream sequence in the film, and added that Mlis's invention of the village idiot character allows the film to move from reality to dream and back in a fluid and balanced way. Cultural historian Richard Abel called the film a "colorful forest fantasy," highlighting its overt theatricality and strong roots to the Planquette operetta. Writer and historian Thomas S. Hischak, reviewing the film's spectacular effects and deviations from Irving's original tale, concluded: "As an adaptation the movie is nonsense but for film historians it is remarkable."


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