According to a surviving scenario, the names of the characters are Baron Gauthier (the Knight of the Snows), Baron Hugues le Cruel (the man dressed in black, a pretender to the throne), Azurine daughter of King Majolic (the princess), Alcofrisbas (the sorcerer), and Belphégor (the Devil).
The film was made by Méliès in the autumn of 1912. The themes and effects in the film recall many from the previous Méliès films The Kingdom of the Fairies and The Palace of the Arabian Nights. Méliès had previously used the name Azurine, the kidnapped princess in the film, for the kidnapped princess in The Kingdom of the Fairies. In addition, many props and scenic elements were reused from other Méliès films, including the dragon puppet from The Witch and the mechanical snake from Rip's Dream.
The Knight of the Snows, Méliès's penultimate film, was the last one he completed in 1912; production of The Voyage of the Bourrichon Family began in that year, but appears to have been interrupted after only a few scenes were filmed. The film is also the last Méliès made in the féerie style, his last film with Faustian themes, and the last of many films in which Méliès appeared as the Devil.
The film is made in the theatrical style Méliès had continuously used for his fiction films since the 1890s, with very few concessions made to the continuity editing techniques that had come into favor by 1912. Special effects in the film were created with stage machinery, pyrotechnics, substitution splices, superimpositions, and dissolves.
Release and reception
Like the other five of Méliès's last films, The Knight of the Snows was made under contract with the Pathé Frères. The abrupt linear edits in the film are markedly different from Méliès's usual cutting style, strongly implying that the film, like Cinderella or the Glass Slipper the same year, was completely recut by the Pathé director Ferdinand Zecca before release. The film was released by the Pathé Frères studio in February 1913, and advertised as a féerie fantastique enfantine.
Jack Zipes, in a description of the film, notes that "Méliès appears to have run out of steam and joy in this last twenty-minute féerie. There are very few comic touches … Nevertheless, [it] is a tightly-knit fairy-tale film that shows Méliès as a nimble master." Zipes adds that the film may have autobiographical overtones, with the individualistic innovator Méliès attempting to defend his style from "the dark forces of corporate filmmaking."