Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fantômas (1913-1914)

The DVD set contains 5 episodes about Fantômas by director Louis Feuillade. Based on popular novels at that time by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, Fantômas is a mysterious criminal who terrorize Paris. He leads Parisian street thugs and wears various disguise. Among a few people who can recognize him are: his arch enemy Inspector Juve, a young journalist named Jerôme Fandor who works for newspaper La Capitale, and his accomplish Lady Beltham.

(L-R) Juve, Fantômas, and Fandor

This series, although they are silent, I found them captivating. I guess crime stories are always cruel and merciless, it's not important when they are done. If you think criminals in 1913-1914 were not as mean and as clever as they are now, you are wrong. The plots are very good. In every episode, Fantômas does a series of nasty crimes (and he doesn't hesitate to murder), then the police try to catch him, but he always be able to escape.

I really like the stories and hoped that they were made in later date so that they had sound and more dialogues. The other versions I have seen are the ones with Jean Marais and Louis de Funès, but they are more like comedy than thriller and has been influence by James Bond movies.

Last episode in the silent series, Le Faux Magistrat, tells how Fantômas is jailed in Belgium for a murder. Inspector Juve goes there and replaces his place in jail so that Fantômas returns to France and Juve will be able to catch him in the end. I know Inspector Juve has an obsession to catch Fantômas, but I think he goes to far and that he better lets Fantômas rot in Belgium's jail. As always, Fantômas can escape from the police who tails him and he returns to France safely and commits another big crimes.

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