Max accepts a wager that he cannot remain in a haunted castle for one hour (11 PM to midnight) without crying for help. As soon as he arrives he encounters strange and nightmarish visions, ... See full summary »
Before becoming the name of a heavy metal group,"Belphegor" was first a silent movie,then sensational miniseries in the sixties ,and was remade in a "modern way" a few years back.
"Belphegor" seemed to come too late in 1927. The serial boom long over (Feuillade's works such as "Les Vampires" "Judex" or "Fantomas" were made in the previous decade),it was already an anomaly at a time when the silent age was about to come to an end .Today,it is often overlooked when they speak of French silent era (obviously,the 1965 miniseries buried it).
"Belphegor" has moments of brilliance:the scenes in the Louvres ,where the phantom appears in the middle of the night ,in search of something in the dark corridors;the flashbacks which take us to the reign of Henri the Third and his notorious mom,Catherine de Medicis -after all,the Louvres was their home.Even stronger: Simone on her deathbed with lots and lots of flowers and candles :such a scene might have inspired Jean Cocteau and Jean Delannoy for the final scene of "La Princesse de Clèves" (1961) .Simone herself is a complex character and her motives are less clear than they appear at first sight.
That said,the 1965 miniseries beats the silent movie hands down ;although it's interesting, the unusual length of the film may repel some (3h 40 min).There are characters who appear in the two versions:THe Commissaire Ménardier for instance ;here ,he is overshadowed by the king of the sleuths Chantecoq (not present in the miniseries).Bellegarde,a journalist is close to the character played by Yves Regnier in 1965 ,a young man in love with Colette Menardier,the captain's daughter.The screenplay of the TV work was tighter,stronger,and Juliette Gréco and Madame Sylvie had mystery and screen presence going for them whereas the actresses'playing here has not worn well.
I would recommend it only to people who love the 1965 miniseries -which was the biggest success of French TV of that time and which still holds up well,43 years after.
And avoid the recent version featuring Sophie Marceau at all cost.
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