Fantômas – A l’ombre de la guillotine
R: Louis Feuillade. B: Marcel Allain (novel). K: Georges Guérin. D: René Navarre, Edmund Breon, Georges Melchior, Renée Carl. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913
Locations: 3 Rue Huraut, Villemomble, Seine-Saint-Denis, France
“Actually, here and in other works, Feuillade’s staging is quite precise. I doubt that many directors today could block fixed shots as fluidly as he does; sustained, intricate staging in this sense is an almost lost art. Hou Hsiao-hsien, in his films up through Flowers of Shanghai, might be the last great exponent of this technique.
In the lurid tales of Allain and Souvestre, Feuillade found sensational material. He had fine actors. He had luminous prewar Paris as a backdrop. And he had at his fingertips all the resources of tableau cinema. The whole mixture creates a lively cinematic experience. Watching films like Fantômas and Ingeborg Holm and The Mysterious X and many others from 1913, we can still be bowled over by their exquisitely modulated storytelling. If Feuillade is less baroque than Bauer and less poignant than Sjöström, he’s also more brisk, laconic, and playful. Call him the Hawks of the tableau tradition.”
David Bordwell’s website on cinema
Fantômas Over Paris – What we see of Paris and its environs in the first four of Feuillade’s adaptations of the Fantômas novels: