The Merry Frolics of Satan (French: Les Quat’Cents Farces du diable, literally The Four Hundred Tricks of the Devil) is a 1906 French silent film directed by and starring Georges Méliès. The film, an updated comedic adaptation of the Faust legend, follows the adventures of an engineer who barters with the Devil for superhuman powers and is forced to face the consequences. It was released by Méliès’s Star Film Company and is numbered 849–870 in its catalogues, where it is advertised as a grande pièce fantastique en 35 tableaux.
An English engineer and inventor, William Crackford, is visited in his workshop by a messenger, who tells him that the famous alchemist Alcofrisbas is interested in selling him a powerful talisman. Arriving in Alcofrisbas’s mysterious laboratory, where they are attacked and confused by magically moving and transforming pieces of furniture, Crackford and his servant John explain to the alchemist that they hope to make a high-speed trip around the world. Alcofrisbas promises to make the trip possible. With the help of his seven laboratory assistants, Alcofrisbas makes a batch of large magical pills for the engineer and demonstrates that, by hurling a pill upon the ground, Crackford can have any wish gratified. Crackford, in his excitement, does not read the terms of the contract he is asked to sign, and so remains blissfully unaware that he has just sold his soul to the Devil. When Crackford and John leave, “Alcofrisbas” resumes his true identity—Mephistopheles—and his “assistants” are revealed to be the Seven Deadly Sins.
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