Fantômas

“While Griffith reeks of Victorian morality and nostalgia for the mid-19th century, Feuillade looks forward to the global paranoia, conspiratorial intrigues, and technological fantasies of the 20th century and beyond.”
(Jonathan Rosenbaum)

 

Fantômas (I) – 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 1913/14
Locations: 3 Rue Huraut, Villemomble, Seine-Saint-Denis, France
Print: Gaumont

Fantômas (II) – Juve contre Fantômas

Fantômas (III) – Le mort qui tue

Fantômas (IV) – Fantômas contre Fantômas

Fantômas (V) – Le faux magistrat

“The five Fantômas films of 1913 and 1914 — not really serial episodes, though some of them end with cliff-hangers, but separate films — mark the virtual beginning of what Resnais calls the Feuillade current. In May 1912, he’d already cast the title star of Fantômas, Rene Navarre, as detective Jean Dervieux, and this came after Victorin Jasset turned out a series of films about American detective Nick Carter — an earlier avatar of the improbably named American detective, Tom Bob, in the Fantômas series — between 1908 and 1910. And in early 1911, hack authors Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain started to issue one 400-page novel per month devoted to the scheming exploits of Fantômas, a series so popular that it would eventually comprise 32 volumes by 1913.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum: The Lure of Crime: Feuillade’s Fantômas Films

“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:
The Cine-Tourist

>>> Feuillade’s Les vampires 1-10
>>> Ingeborg Holm and Det hemmelighedsfulde X on this site: Victor Sjöström, Benjamin Christensen