Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Terrible Turkish Executioner (1904)




Another very short piece of trick photography by Georges Méliès is making a farce of something, though we're not quite sure what. In The Terrible Turkish Executioner, we see the gory violence that the European Victorian consciousness imposed on the Middle East... That distant and mysterious land where brutality and sensuality walked hand-in-hand across timeless sands. Heathen prayers cried out from towering minarets while ancient Djinn magics coiled and writhed beneath.

Here the Turks displayed that capacity for which they were most famous: the viciousness of their punitive justice. Yet all is not quite what it seems. The most terrible of the Turkish executioners does is worst, and with one stroke beheads four captives. The newly disembodied heads refuse to stay at peace and eventually call their decapitated bodies into full on revolt against the executioner, with ironic results.

Perhaps Méliès felt, like so many, that the Middle East was a backwards land and satirized it with his depiction of failed violence. Perhaps he felt that it was his fellow Frenchmen's views that were almost comic in their hyperbole, so he subverted them with this comedy. We cannot know, but we can enjoy this two-minute short for the slapstick tumbling and cinema magic that it is.

3 comments:

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Hi Cory, This is crazy cool. I have never seen it before. Hope everything is going fine with you and yours, Richard.

Cory Gross said...

Yep, Melies is a lot of fun, whatever he's up to ^_^

Liam said...

I'll take that over all the CGI in the universe.