Georges Méliès once more conflates astronomy with astrology and technological wizardry with the more traditional kind in his 1906 film The Merry Frolics of Satan. Though ordinarily seen in excerpted form, focusing on the celestial carriage ride, it is actually one of Méliès' longer films. In it, a young engineer and his servant pester an alchemist for the means to travel across the planet, and get much more than they bargained for.
Ever the consummate stage magician, Méliès loves misdirections, redirections, and disguises. His alchemists and magicians rarely act only in the single capacity. In A Trip to the Moon, they are alchemist-astronomers... Relatively benign. In The Merry Frolics of Satan, the alchemist turns out to be the Devil himself (played by Méliès of course). The engineer ought to have looked at the fine print when signing his deal for a magical talisman that would enable to him to fulfill his dream of a high-speed global adventure.
Returning home, the engineer (Crackford, according to the script) drops the talismans, which transform into steamer trunks, out of which pop pairs of footmen and more steamer trunks, out of which pop more footmen and steamer trunks. One almost catches the whiff of The Sorcerer's Apprentice in this segment. The footmen proceed to place all of Crackford's furnishing and family in the steamer trunks, then transform them into a diminutive steam train. Off they go through town, to the jeers and lobbed vegetables of disdainful townsfolk. They should have turned around, because they don't get too far before a disaster claims the bridge over which they were travelling and the cars in which Crackford's family were riding. He has no time to be stopped by the tragic loss of his family, however. There is a journey around the world that he must make!
Next they arrive in a quaint Italian town and an inn-keeper... You-Know-Who... offers to put them up for the night. Méliès once more performs one of his "haunted inn" or "haunted room" skits, reminiscent of 1903's The Inn Where No Man Rests. Seeking escape from the ambulatory furniture and demonic acrobats, Crackford and his manservant hijack a horse-drawn carriage, which is in turn hijacked by the Devil. Mephistopheles transforms it into an infernal carriage pulled by a skeleton horse, and then uses an automobile to push it up Mount Vesuvius. An eruption projects them into the Heavens, where Crackford sees sights beyond his wildest imaginings. He is soaring through the celestial spheres, past comets and planets, and such sights undreamed of.
Then a storm ends it all. The carriage is dashed on a thundercloud, and the intrepid explorers are thrown back to Earth. Crackford is relieved to be home, but the deal is not yet done. Satan comes to claim his soul, the film ending with Crackford being turned on a spit in Hell.
The Merry Frolics of Satan was a free adaptation of a stage play by Victor de Cottens and Victor Darlay, form whom Méliès had previously supplied short films as part of their féerie stage revues. He altered the name and some of the sequences to avoid litigation, but it's fair enough, since the entire setting is a rendition of Faust set to the Edwardian Era. In particular, Méliès is sending up the fever for exploration and world travel that captured the minds of the upper classes. His Faustian character is not even looking for arcane knowledge of the supernatural, only a way to make it around the world pretty fast. Méliès' fantastic journeys usually end up in disaster, but in this case, it ends up in full-on damnation.