The Sign of the Cross (1899) Review
Synopsis: Satan appears in a convent and takes the guise of a priest. Before long he is causing all manner of perturbation and despair.|
Original title: Le diable au couvent
Also known as: The Haunted Castle
Here at Codex Mortis, we generally review only feature-length movies, not shorts or series. But in light of the often-brief nature of the oldest cinematic treasures, we make an exception for movies released before 1920.
Director and star Georges Méliès wasn’t quite at the height of his popularity in 1900 when this was created, but he was close. He was well known for his cinematic special effects (heavily visible in most of his shorts) by this time, and uses them to good effect in this short.
This quick story about the devil impersonating a priest (and then gleefully revealing himself) is more coherent than some of Méliès’ other magic-heavy stories. I particularly like his redecorating the cathedral in his own image and deeply enjoy the sense of fun that pervades this particular exploration of cinematographic tricks.
Even for those who aren’t a fan of older, silent works, it’d be a challenge not to laugh at some of the eminently gif-able stunts Méliès pulls (including my all-time favorite involving a giant frog). If you’re exploring older works, this is a great one to try out.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B+