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Directed by Louis Feuillade
Produced in 1913-14
Main Language - Silent with English subtitles
Fantômas - master of disguise and criminal genius whose gang held Paris in its sway in a series of phenomenally popular pre-First World War thrillers by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre - exploded onto the screen in May 1913 in five marvellous episodes directed by the king of silent serials, Louis Feuillade (Les vampires, Judex). The annals of fantasy literature and cinema include Professor Moriarty and Dr. Mabuse, but Fantômas reigns supreme. As Professor Moriarty was hounded by Sherlock Holmes, so too Fantômas has his nemesis in Juve, the police inspector obsessed with his capture, and Juve's assistant, journalist Jérôme Fandor.
Rarely seen undisguised and always perilously close to capture, Fantômas (René Navarre) eludes his captors every time, while his gang spins its web of terror. In Under the Shadow of the Guillotine, Fantômas only narrowly avoids the guillotine when an actor portraying him in a play is substituted for the real mastermind. Will Juve and Fandor, trapped inside Lady Beltham's villa, escape before Fantômas blows it up in Juve versus Fantômas? In The Murderous Corpse, the Lord of Terror removes the skin from the right hand of one of his victims to make a human glove. Fandor attends a charity ball disguised as Fantômas, but the real villain also attends, in Fantômas versus Fantômas; which Man in Black will escape? And in The False Judge, Juve impersonates Fantômas, but the super-criminal disguises himself as a judge. No wonder the French Surrealists were smitten by Fantômas.
Besides its thrills, Fantômas also offers a fascinating glimpse of a vanished world of Paris and its environs on the eve of the WWI, and is transferred from a stunning, multi-tinted print restored by Gaumont and the Cinemathèque Française. With its multiple disguises, shocking violence and breathtaking escapes, no wonder film historian David Thompson has called Feuillade's masterpiece 'the first great movie experience'.
Fantômas, the anti-hero arch criminal from a series of 32 pulp thrillers, was one of cinema's earliest and most original crime dramas, and was much admired by the avant-garde of the time. Rene Navarre stars as the master of disguise and leader of a vast army of street thugs. The five films featured are Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine, Juve Versus Fantômas, The Murderous Corpse, Fantômas Versus Fantômas and The False Judge.
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Length: 335 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Cat No: ART299DVD
Format: DVD B&W
- 2 discs
- 'Who is Fant?mas?' introduction by Kim Newman
- Louis Feuillade biography
- Poster and image galleries.
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