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When I watched Jean-Luc Godard's documentary series Histoire(s) Du Cinema, there was a quick image from a silent film of a woman open mouthed, collapsing in front of a movie screen. The brief clip impressed me, but I had no way of knowing what the film's title was. A few months later, I am watching the Gaumont Treasures DVDs and I stumble onto the film with that clip. A personal mystery is solved!
The above mentioned scene is the centerpiece of this forty minute thriller. The plot is the classic of a scoundrel trying to do away with an heir to inherit a fortune. The mystery of the title isn't much of one, but the film is fun and also unexpected. A psychiatrist uses a motion picture camera to treat a patient, re-creating a traumatic event in that patient's life. This is an unconventional moment of self-reflexion for a film from 1912. I was fascinated. In addition to the set up, the actors are wonderful. Some have found director Leonce Perret wrong for the role of the scoundrel, but I found him appropriately light-hearted AND evil. His reactions during the masked ball finale are perfect. I actually prefer The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador to Perret's more revered The Child of Paris. It was a good time!
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