The Laboratory of Mephistopheles

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The Laboratory of Mephistopheles
Directed byGeorges Méliès
Based onThe Faust legend
Release date
Running time

The Laboratory of Mephistopheles (French: Le Cabinet de Méphistophélès),[2] initially released in Britain and America as Laboratory of Mephistopheles[3] and also known as The Cabinet of Mephistopheles, The Devil's Laboratory,[4] Faust's Laboratory, and The Laboratory of Faust,[5] was an 1897 short silent film directed by Georges Méliès, loosely inspired by the Faust legend.[6]


Mephistopheles, the demon who appears in the Faust legend,[4] disguises himself as an old man and waits on customers in his laboratory. As the customers prepare to leave, however, Mephistopheles mystifies them with various magical pranks and cavorts under several animal disguises, taunting them with a beautiful vanishing lady and trapping them briefly in a cage. One of the customers, noticing a sword on the wall, manages to cut Mephistopheles's head off, but it remains alive and eventually reattaches itself to its body. Finally, to the great relief of the customers, Mephistopheles himself ends up trapped in his own cage.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

The Laboratory of Mephistopheles was released by Méliès's Star Film Company and is numbered 118–120 in its catalogues.[3] It was shown at Méliès's own Paris theatre of illusions, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, in early October 1897, along with four other new Méliès films: The Barber and the Farmer, The Charcoal Man's Reception, The Bewitched Inn, and A Hypnotist at Work. The newspaper Le Journal reported that the films were novel and received with much success.[5] In February 1898, the magician David Devant toured British towns with the film as part of his act, advertising it under the titles The Laboratory of Faust and Faust's Laboratory.[5]

The film has been cited both as the first Faustian film[2] and as Méliès's first literary adaptation.[6] It is currently presumed lost.[3]


  1. ^ a b Young, R. G. (1997), The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies, New York: Applause, p. 81, ISBN 1557832692
  2. ^ a b Hedges, Inez (2005), Framing Faust: Twentieth-Century Cultural Struggles, Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, p. 203
  3. ^ a b c Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008), L'oeuvre de Georges Méliès, Paris: Éditions de La Martinière, p. 338, ISBN 978-2-7324-3732-3
  4. ^ a b Harty, Kevin J. (1999), The Reel Middle Ages: American, Western and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Asian Films About Medieval Europe, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, p. 41
  5. ^ a b c d "Le Cabinet de Méphistophélès", le grimh, Groupe de Réflexion sur l'Image dans le Monde Hispanique, retrieved 25 August 2018
  6. ^ a b Frayling, Christopher (2005), Mad, Bad and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema, London: Reaktion, p. 49

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