Les Vampires (1915); Judex (1916)

After the Méliès box, I decided to go for more epic French viewing efforts, albeit of a different kind… here we have two of Louis Feuillade’s serials, Les Vampires (1915) clocking in around six hours forty minutes and Judex (1916) about five hours fifteen. Needless to say both of these were two-day viewing jobs. Ultimately I think I wound up preferring Judex to Les Vampires; it seemed to have more sense of continuity from episode to episode, not quite the same sense you frequently get from the other film that Feuillade was making the whole thing up as he goes along with no real vision of how he was going to end it (which seems to have been the reality, in fact). And it helps that Flicker Alley got a much better source for their print of Judex than Film Preservation Associates did for their version of the other serial. But obviously both of them (along with Feuillade’s Fantomas of 1913-14) are essential insights into the pulp entertainment of nearly a century ago for anyone who likes their cinema preposterous and full of fiendish villainy. Also: isn’t it funny how neither film addresses the fact that there was a war on? Apparently Judex was filmed in 1914, and not released until two years later;  I don’t know if it was finished before the declaration of war. But war was well underway when Les Vampires was made, so I don’t know why it didn’t make reference to that fact…


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