LE ROSIER MIRACULEUX
(The Wonderful Rose Tree)
Georges Méliès (FR 1904)
A new Méliès discovery, presented for the first time in Pordenone. The Brahmin, Iftikar, who enjoys a great reputation in India, has determined to create something miraculous which will place the seal upon his renown. He sows some seeds upon a carpet, prostrates himself, and in the course of his invocations, in less than an instant, the grains germinate. A small rosebush grows and produces beautiful roses. Aided by his servant, the Brahmin makes of them a magnificent bouquet, which is changed into a single enormous rose. The flower spreads out its petals and from its centre there darts forth a lovely young woman, whom the Brahmin strives to embrace. But she eludes him and dances a fascinating serpentine dance. She disappears, and the rosebush takes her place. Iftikar destroys the rosebush, and he confesses himself vanquished, for he has been able to create, but not to preserve.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Brinton Entertainment Company of Washington, Iowa, would travel throughout the Midwest bringing films, magic lantern slides, and other forms of entertainment to people who, in many cases, had never before seen such sights. Frank Brinton’s film collection – indeed, his entire life history – was on the verge of ending up in a dumpster in 1981. But local historian Michael Zahs stepped in and helped ensure its survival. Thanks to the American Film Institute, the Brinton prints were sent to the Library of Congress for preservation, where they survive today. These films include Pathé, Lumière, Edison, and many other productions, including a few unidentified titles. Two of these were lost films by Georges Méliès, Le Bouquet d’illusions (which was shown at the Bologna Cinema Ritrovato in 2016) and this one, Le Rosier miraculeux, or The Wonderful Rose Tree. The original print has long decomposed, and though the end is slightly incomplete, the film’s discovery is a miracle!
Frank Brinton and Michael Zahs are the stars of a new documentary dedicated to this treasure trove, Saving Brinton, directed by Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburne.