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


December 30, 2020


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.

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.