Fantômas makes it as the emperor of Crime. First is the robbery at the Royal Palace Hotel. Then he abducts Lord Beltham. As Fantômas' fame increases actor Valgrand creates the rôle of ... See full summary »
Louis Feuillade's 5 1/2-hour epic follows FantÃ'mas, the criminal lord of Paris, master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black, as he is pursued by the equally resourceful Inspector Juve and journalist JerÃ'me Fandor.
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
After a body disappears from inside the prison, a series of crimes take place, all seemingly by the dead man. With Juve presumed dead, Fandor must investigate alone. Will Fantomas finally be brought to justice?
As inspector Juve seems to be unable to put Fantômas behind bars the Press comes up with the idea Juve must be Fantômas himself! Juve is soon jailed as an attempt to ease the stress on his ... See full summary »
Fantômas has been arrested and is jailed in Brussels, but inspector Juve wants him arrested and sentenced for all his crimes in France. Thus Juve settles Fantômas' escape so he can be ... See full summary »
The Marquise de Langrune invites her friends at her castle in Beaulieu. Among them is Lord Beltham who also came to bring her a significant sum of money. The mysterious Fantômas kills the ... See full summary »
A jilted husband takes his revenge by filming his wife and her lover and showing the result at the local cinema. This was one of Starewicz' first animated films, and stars very realistic ... See full summary »
A poor student rescues a beautiful countess and soon becomes obsessed with her. A sorcerer makes a deal with the young man to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if he will sign... See full summary »
Fantômas makes it as the emperor of Crime. First is the robbery at the Royal Palace Hotel. Then he abducts Lord Beltham. As Fantômas' fame increases actor Valgrand creates the rôle of public enemy No.1 on stage. Eventually Inspector Juve, with a little help from Fandor, arrests Fantômas and he is soon sentenced to die on the guillotine. But... Written by
Fantomas is a kind of French Moriarty, an arch-criminal, leader of a huge rag-tag band of villains, who can evade arrest by two policemen holding each of his arms simply by shaking his wrists and knocking them both out. I ask you, what chance has an honest copper got? The film actually seems quite ambivalent about him at times, and you suspect there is a sneaking admiration for him on the filmmakers' part, despite his incredibly ruthless streak (in one episode he uncouples a train carriage and sends its passengers to their death so that they can't act as witnesses against a robbery he has committed on board; in another incredible sequence he leaves a fellow villain stranded inside a church bell to await certain death the next time it is rung).
The story lines of this French pre-WWI serial are fairly simplistic and don't stand up to even cursory scrutiny but, as a time capsule from a bygone age, the films are fascinating. Louis Feuillade's style of direction is basic to say the least and, for such a renowned early name from French cinema, something of a disappointment. The camera never moves, and every shot appears purely functional and nothing more. Perhaps I'm missing something, or perhaps I'm expecting more than I should from a piece of work nearly one hundred years old, but his style makes things drag at times. The film only really comes alive when Feuillade takes his camera outside to capture scenes of both rural and urban France. The film makes as much use of letters as it does intertitles to drive the story on and, considering the hindrance of it being a silent film, it's a device that works quite well.
Fantomas will only be of interest to the movie buff rather than the film fan. The art of storytelling has moved on or, given the impression of advancement that gives, perhaps changed is a better word and even the most patient of filmgoers will find that the pace drags at times. Nevertheless, given its place in film history, it's an important film that is worth checking out.
And it's also worth watching just for the final get-out-of jail card played by the wily Fantomas
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