Feuillade: L’agonie de Byzance

L’agonie de Byzance
R: Louis Feuillade. D: Luitz-Morat, Georges Melchior, Albert Reusy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913
Print: Gaumont

“Where L’agonie de Byzance distinguishes itself most is with its impressively staged battle scenes which are among the most ambitious depicted in cinema up until this time. Even though the camera is rigidly static and most scenes consist of long takes with minimal editing, there is a dynamic quality to the action sequences that really does convey a sense of the fury and frenzy of battle. The static set-up actually works to the film’s advantage, making the spectator feel that he is standing on the periphery of the drama watching history unfold from a privileged vantage point. It only falls down in the scene where the hoards swarming towards the camera end up having to split into two, taking a left or right turn to avoid crashing into a very expensive piece of filmmaking apparatus.”
James Travers
French Filmsite

Another death-struggle, created by Feuillade:

Le fils de Locuste
R: Louis Feuillade. D: Yvette Andréyor, Renée Carl, Luitz-Morat,  Georges Wague. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911

“The object of this dramatic picture is to show how human fate sometimes makes the evil that one may shoot, arrow-like, at another miss the intended butt and make a victim of the one who sent it forth. In this case, the poison Locustra gives to Nero for Britannicus is stolen by her son and causes his death and her own great sorrow. If the spectators could know that in the street scene, the reveler who is stealing the wine is Locustra’s son and that she loves him, the picture would be far more effective. As it is, they know it only when the messengers come to Locustra with the sad news. It is a very graceful picture! this reviewer thinks it the best Roman picture he has seen. The street revelers with Locustra’s son dance gracefully and make a very beautiful scene. The acting of the whole cast is good; but Locustra’s picture of the tragic situation is excellent. The film is colored and the photography is very good.
The Moving Picture World, May 27, 1911