The Mystic Swing

Director:

T. Edison

Producer:

T. Edison

Year:

1900

Distributor:

Edison Mfg. Co.

Country:

USA

Running time:

60 ft

Genre:

Biograph, Trick film

Format:

Silent, B&W

Availability:

DVD, VHS

Keywords:

Professor, Magicians
Summary
A contest of the black arts pitting a Professor against Mephisto, as they attempt to outdo each other by conjuring up a young woman on a swing, an ugly dwarf, and a skeleton. The Professor emerges victorious, making Mephisto vanish in a cloud of sulphuric vapour.
Teaching Notes
Portrayal of Professors
We know from Shakespeare that academics are uniquely qualified to deal with the denizens of the occult, as in the first scene of Hamlet; where Marcello designates Horatio as the most qualified to engage the ghost — “Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio”.
While this film does not reach the same level of sophistication, it could be seen as an early generic prototype of the innumerable drama, horror and comedy films which followed, featuring professors fighting the good fight against evil and ghostly ghouls: The disgraced ex-academic heroes in Ghostbusters are direct desendants of this early Mephisto-busting professor.
film poster
The Professor vs Mephisto