The Erl King (1931)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original Title: Le Roi Des Aulnes

, 1931. Screenplay by , Marie-Louise Iribe, , based on the novel by . Cinematography by , . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by Paul Iribe.

The European folk tale of the king of the elves, who lures careless children to their deaths, was incorporated into a poetic tale by Goethe and later set to music by Schubert, both of whose works are combined in this spellbinding film by Marie-Louise Iribe. A man traveling on horseback with his young son in tow travels a forest landscape and, we come to realize, is looking for help for the boy who is ill. As they move along, the young man sees visions of magical creatures about him, dancing fairies and sprites and, eventually, the “erl king”, who tempts him to join him in his kingdom of pleasures. The older man is not privy to these apparitions which act as a metaphor of death in pursuit of the child’s life. The effects are simple (mostly double process shots) but are greatly effective, giving a sense of beauty and enchantment to this sad tale without undermining its tragic flavour.

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