films seen
average score
Alive and kicking



1916 / 300m - France
Adventure, Crime
Judex poster

Feuillade is one of the first directors to make films resembling the commercial cinema of today. Judex is another crime epic from his hand, only now with a respectable hero in the lead. Apparently, Feuillade had received quite a few comments that his earlier films glorified the criminals, so this was his response: one of the first "superhero" films.

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Favraux is a corrupt banker who made quite a few enemies for himself. One of those enemies is Judex, a mysterious figure who wants revenge for what Favraux did to him and his family. He seeks out the banker, but his mission becomes a whole lot trickier when he falls in love with Favraux's daughter.

Thank God the pacing is half-decent, as Feuillade's films are pretty damn long. The story and the reveals are rather basic though, and there's a lot of plot to wade through. His work isn't as visual as other films from the era either. Coupled with the length, that made it quite a tough film to sit through.

Les Vampires

1915 / 421m - France
Crime, Thriller
Les Vampires poster

Probably the oldest crime film I've seen so far. I say film, but it's really a serial as it consists of 10 episodes of various lengths. It's a welcome structure for those who want to break up this 7-hour long experience, 420 minutes really is a bit much (let's call that an understatement) for the material at hand.

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I've seen other lengthy classics before (like Gance's Napoléon), but at least they made a real effort to stand out. Les Vampires is just a 7-hour long crime narrative, with few ups and down, little cinematic prowess and simply a ton of plot to wade through. Oh, and don't expect any Gothic horror creatures either, Les Vampires is merely the name of the criminal gang.

The runtime is simply ridiculous, then again I'm not a big fan of series either. Watching this from start to finish was quite a chore, especially because the story is way too basic (it's only epic in length) and the cinematic qualities are below par. No doubt the film has historic significance, but that's not enough considering the excessive runtime.

Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine

Fantômas - À l'Ombre de la Guillotine
1913 / 54m - France
Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine poster

The first film in Feuillade's 5-part Fantômas series and the second one I've seen. I can't say I've been very impressed by the work of Feuillade so far, though I fully recognize that making a compelling crime flick in the 1910s was probably a lot harder than making a frivolous comedy.

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Fantômas is a master criminal who loves to challenge himself. Inspector Juve is eager to track him down, but Fantômas proves a tough criminal to catch. When Juve finally succeeds he is sure that Fantômas will hang for his crimes, but little does he know that Fantômas still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

The plot is extremely simple, the silent cinema approach (with its intertitles and expressive acting) isn't very suited for a film that relies on tension and mystery. Watching the Fantômas films is almost like watching an illustrated novel. Feuillade races through the plot, the static camera and poor performances just make it harder to sit through. At least the film is rather short.

Fantômas: The False Magistrate

Le Faux Magistrat
1914 / 70m - France
Fantômas: The False Magistrate poster

I don't think the work of Feuillade is meant for me. The False Magistrate is the second Feuillade film I've seen, I'm afraid it nearly bored me to death. While I think silent cinema works fairly well for comedy and horror (or any other type of film that relies on atmosphere), it's a real drag when it comes to purely narrative films.

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The False Magistrate is a simple story told through intertitles and endless shots of people talking to each other (without sound). It's sluggish and uninteresting, even for a film that's barely 70 minutes long. There are just a handful of scenes that qualify as more action-oriented, but even these were pretty dim and uneventful.

Performances are formulaic, the cinematography is way too static and the plot and characters felt lazy. I just didn't care for any of it. I don't think I'll be watching the other episodes in the series anytime soon, no doubt Feuillade's work here was inspirational for directors who explored more narrative-focused cinema, but in this form it's painfully insufficient.