IMDb > Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque (2004)

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque (2004) More at IMDbPro »Le fantôme d'Henri Langlois (original title)

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Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque -- A "first rate documentary" (NY Post) and "a memoir of a lost kingdom" (Village Voice), HENRI LANGLOIS: PHANTOM OF THE CINEMATHEQUE celebrates the man who cultivated cinema's future by protecting its past. Langlois, in the words of grateful acolyte Jean-Luc Godard, "produced a way of seeing films" that inspired two generations of filmmakers and changed the medium itself.


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Release Date:
2 March 2005 (France) See more »
Life and work of the founder of the Cinémathèque Française. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
An absolute must-see for Cinephiles See more (5 total) »


Henri Alekan ... Himself
Catherine Allégret ... Herself
Jo Amorin ... Himself
Jean-Michel Arnold ... Himself
Christian Auboire ... Himself
François Barat ... Himself
Raphaël Bassan ... Himself

Jean-Paul Belmondo ... (archive footage)
Claude Berri ... Himself
Bernard Boursicot ... Himself
Marie-Charlotte Bridant ... Herself
Freddy Buache ... Himself
Raymonde Carasco ... Herself
Pierre Cardin ... Himself

Marcel Carné ... (archive footage)
Françoise Carvilani ... Herself
Jean Casol ... Himself

Claude Chabrol ... Himself
Jacques Champreux ... Himself
Odile Chapel ... Herself
Michel Ciment ... Himself
Daniel Cohn-Bendit ... Himself
Claudia Collao ... Herself

Cyril Collard ... Himself (archive footage)
Henri Colpi ... Himself
Frédéric Compain ... Himself

Mireille Darc ... (archive footage)
Georges de Caunes ... Himself (archive footage)
Hervé de Luze ... Himself
Sybille de Luze ... Herself
Philippe de Pardaillan ... Himself
Michel Delahaye ... (archive footage)
Ghislaine Dewind ... Herself
Jean Diard ... Himself
Jean Douchet ... Himself
Max Douy ... Himself
Brigitte Duvivier ... Herself
Bernard Eisenschitz ... Himself
Lotte Eisner ... Herself
Jean Eustache ... (archive footage)
Gérard Fallin ... Himself
Zahra Farzanef ... Herself
Feri Farzaneh ... Himself
Françoise Foucault ... Herself
Georges Franju ... Himself (archive footage)
Alain Gabet ... Himself
Abel Gance ... Himself (archive footage)

Philippe Garrel ... Himself
Farokh Ghafari ... Himself
Noëlle Giret ... Herself

Jean-Luc Godard ... Himself
Georges Goldfayn ... Himself
Romain Goupil ... Himself
Hiroko Govars ... Herself
Laurent Heynemann ... Himself

Alfred Hitchcock ... (archive footage)
André Holleaux ... Himself (archive footage)
Robert Hossein ... Himself
Henri Hudrisier ... Himself
François Husard ... Himself
Léone Jaffin ... Herself
Miklós Jancsó ... Himself
Marie-Josée Jeannet ... Herself
Valérie Jeannet ... Herself
Pierre Kast ... (archive footage)

Gene Kelly ... (archive footage)
Georges Kiejman ... (archive footage)
André S. Labarthe ... Himself
Marguerite Laloi-Diard ... Herself
Valérie Lalonde ... Herself
Xavier Lambours ... Himself
Henri Langlois ... Himself (archive footage)
Hugues Langlois ... Himself
Jean-Louis Langlois ... Himself
Paul Lantéri ... Himself
Éric Le Roy ... Himself
Richard Leacock ... Himself
Maurice Lemaître ... Himself
Luce Leray-Mauriac ... Herself
Roland Lesaffre ... Himself
Lucie Lichtig ... Herself
Renée Lichtig ... Herself
Serge Losique ... Himself

Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Himself
Marc Maintigneux ... Himself
Marie-France ... Herself
Bernard Martinand ... Himself
Mary Meerson ... Herself (archive footage)
Frédéric Mitterrand ... Himself
Pierre Moinot ... Himself
Maud Molyneux ... Herself
Laurent Muratet ... Himself
Glenn Myrent ... Himself
Marie-Hélène Méliès-Lehérissey ... Herself
Jean Narboni ... Himself
Marie-José Nat ... (archive footage)
Luc Passerau-Supervielle ... Himself
Véronique Perlès ... Herself
Olivier Petitjean ... Himself
Pierre Philippe ... Himself

Maurice Pialat ... Himself (archive footage)
Jack Ralite ... Himself
Jean-Pierre Rassam ... Himself (archive footage)
Nicholas Ray ... Himself (archive footage)

Satyajit Ray ... Himself (archive footage)

Jean Renoir ... Himself (archive footage)

Alain Resnais ... Himself (archive footage)
Jean Reznikov ... Himself
Patrick Rinoux ... Himself

Jacques Rivette ... Himself (archive footage)
Jacques Robiolles ... Himself
Pascal Rogard ... Himself

Éric Rohmer ... Himself
Muriel Rosé ... Herself
Jean Rouch ... Himself
Ambroise Roux ... Himself
Ewa Rudling ... Herself
Jacques Salom ... Himself
Peter Scarlet ... Himself
Daniel Schmidt ... Himself

Barbet Schroeder ... Himself (archive footage)
Werner Schroeter ... Himself
Nicolas Seydoux ... Himself - gaumont

Simone Signoret ... Herself (archive footage)
Jean-Charles Tacchella ... Himself
Lionel Tardif ... Himself
Max Tessier ... Himself
Serge Toubiana ... Himself

François Truffaut ... Himself (archive footage)
Jean Tulard ... Himself

Jack Valenti ... Himself
Agathe Vannier ... Herself

Agnès Varda ... Herself
Bénédicte Veilloux ... Herself
Luce Vigo ... Herself
Raoul Walsh ... Himself (archive footage)
Michel Warren ... Himself

Directed by
Jacques Richard 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jacques Richard 

Produced by
Jacques Richard .... producer
Original Music by
Nicolas Baby 
Liam Farrell 
Cinematography by
Jérôme Blumberg 
Jacques Richard 
Film Editing by
Fabrice Radenac 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Marie-Charlotte Bridant .... assistant director
Sound Department
François Didio .... sound editor
Mathieu Genet .... sound mixer
Editorial Department
Dominique Le Rigoleur .... color timer
Bruno Patin .... color timer

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Le fantôme d'Henri Langlois" - France (original title)
"Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque" - USA (original subtitled version)
See more »
210 min | USA:128 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »

Did You Know?

Henri Langlois:One must save everything and buy everything. Never assume you know what's of value.See more »
Movie Connections:
References City Lights (1931)See more »


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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
An absolute must-see for Cinephiles, 8 January 2008
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

Sadly, over the years most of our older films have been lost-- intentionally destroyed or simply disintegrated since they were made using highly unstable nitrate stock. I've heard estimates that between 50-80% of the films pre-1950 have been lost--mostly because no one had the will to save them. In this climate of ambivalence, Henri Langlois is unique in that as far back as the 1930s, he was, on his own, working feverishly to save what he could of these precious pieces of our history. This documentary both chronicles his efforts as well as points out the impact he had on the film industry--as well as the total ambivalence or outright hostility he encountered from his own government.

What was most fascinating about Langois is how for him saving cinema history was not just a passion but an obsession. He didn't particularly care about his clothes or hair or even saving money--every ounce of his energy was spent on film preservation as well as spreading his love of cinema. Throughout a 40 year period, he and the fledgling organization he built operated on a shoestring budget--spending every penny on buying and conserving every film he could possibly obtain. How he managed to beg, borrow, steal (in some cases) and cajole people into parting with these films is fascinating and proved that for Langois it was his all-consuming passion.

As a result of his efforts, he was able to introduce classic cinema to audiences in the 1950s and 60s and this had a huge impact on inspiring the French New Wave film movement. Interviews with Truffaut, Godard, Romer and others all point to Langlois as sort of a "Pied Piper" who led them to want to create their own films. Later, this impact spread abroad--eventually leading to Langlois receiving a special Oscar for his contributions to film.

Now had this only been the thrust of the documentary, it would have been well worth watching. HOWEVER, the story has a much darker side. Despite all of Langlois' efforts, once he gained some prestige and public attention, he seemed to have constant battles with the French government and small-minded people who wanted to wrest control of Langlois' "Cinématheque Française"--a repository and eventual museum dedicated to film preservation and worship. A few of these people actually were interviewed for the documentary, though unfortunately there were only a few clips of these tiny-brained idiots--I really would have liked to hear more about how they could justify taking an organization like Cinématheque Française and destroying or severely limiting it. While it was obvious to practically everyone that almost all the conserved films would have been lost without Langlois AND it was also obvious Langlois was spending every dime acquiring as many films as possible, people (mostly in the government) were critical and even tried to remove him from the very foundation he created! I think the motivation of many of these individuals was "if I can't have a piece of this, then I'd rather destroy it".

Fortunately, the New Wave artists and the world rose up as a result of an attempt to replace Langlois with a political hack (nicknamed "the Langlois Affair"). And, following this huge showdown, Langlois was able to finally build a large and worthy film museum. He was so dedicated to this, that according to this documentary, he would fall asleep in the half-built site--only to awaken a couple hours later and continue his manic efforts.

So, once the museum opened in the 1970s, this was the end of Langlois' struggle? Well, unfortunately no. Only a decade later (after Langlois' death), critics began complaining that the museum was stale and needed to be either updated or completely redone in a NEW building--even though the museum was only a decade old. And, when there was a minor fire at the museum in the 1990s, the powers that be decided to put most of the museum in moth balls for over a decade--allowing only a tiny fraction of the holdings to be seen at any time! Langlois must have been rolling in his grave like a rotisserie, though the story is not completely sad. Though the original museum is no more, there is a new museum (finally) and more importantly Langlois' enthusiasm for preservation spread like wildfire--leading to dozens of other film repositories across the globe. For example, in the 1940s and 50s, there were NONE in the United States but today there are about a dozen archives--saving everything from the early silents to documentaries to classic Hollywood to international films.

This documentary is an absolute must-see for anyone who considers themselves a "Cinephile"--a lover of film. I am not talking about people who go to the theater weekly, but people who adore film--the history, the preservation and almost the worship of film. If you fall in that category, then it's imperative you see this movie--especially since the creators of this documentary used decades of film to piece together this project. Clips of Langlois from the 40s and 50s all the way up to his death as well as recent clips were all used to create a fascinating montage that is sure to inspire.

Thank God for men like Langlois.

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