First trailer for “Planetarium”, starring Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp as spirit mediums in ’30s Paris

The decadent worlds of spirit mediumship and film-making come together in this forthcoming feature from French director Rebecca Zlotowski.

Planetarium tells the story of the Laura and Kate Barlow, American sisters who arrive in Paris after touring Europe with their chic spiritualism performances.  There they attract the attention of avante-garde filmmaker André Korben, who becomes their patron in a project that aims to fuse art with the occult – but which also seems to portend the rise of the Third Reich.

Planetarium will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival (August 31 – September 10).

“The Capture of a Spirit” (1880)

Capturing a phony spirit This historic antique wood engraving, titled “The Capture of a Spirit – Sketches at a Recent Spiritualistic Seance,” represents the dramatic exposure of a fake spirit medium named Florence Cook (1856-1904).

During the first heyday of Spiritualism, Cook became one of the its most famous practitioners. She was noted for her purported ability to produce full-form spirit materializations of “Marie,” her spirit guide.  During a seance, Marie would step out of the “spirit cabinet,” often singing and dancing to the delight of clients.

At a materialization seance in 1880, one of the attendees, Sir George Sitwell, reached into the spirit cabinet and grabbed Marie. When the lights came up, Marie was found to be Florence Cook, clad only in her corsets and petticoat and wrapped in white drapery.

A classic case of “pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain” …