A cinematic triumph!
Robert Ortiz | The Southwest | 06/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent silent film and an artistic masterpiece! It centers on the exploits of a group of ingenious and resourceful jewel thieves also referred to as Vampires, who seek sexual and psychological domination over Paris' elite. Their methods include the use of poisonous gas, weapons, kidnapping, and disguises as tools to achieve domination. Although there is a leader that gives the vampires their orders, the group is really led by a captivating woman named Irma Vep who assumes a variety of disguises in order to carry out the gang's evil schemes. A relentless newspaper reporter named Philippe Guérande is on the trail of the vampires and seeks to have them imprisoned. His sidekick is Mazamette, a former member of the vampire gang who has reformed himself and assists Philippe in tracking down the bold and brazen group. Mazamette serves as Philippes' right hand man, informer and loyal friend. He also provides the comic relief in the film. This is a superb spectacle of French and silent cinema that mixes drama, mystery, horror and comedy and weaves it into a very complex and appealing epic. A big part of what makes this film so much fun is that it has a strong story line and features very imaginative and surreal situations that create the feeling of fantasy, but the brazen crimes and sometimes horrifying events that take place are very realistic. The film was shot in the deserted back streets and alleys of Paris during World War 1, which ultimately enhances the film's eerie atmosphere. It's easy to be drawn into this film, as the performances of its stars are very captivating, almost hypnotic and the cinematography is so evocative, you'll feel compelled to see what happens next. Many of the characters assume various identities and wear many hats in this film, for example; Irma Vep who is the main criminal, poses as a secretary at a bank, a maid, and a switchboard operator at a hotel. Musidora gives a stunning performance as the devious but very alluring Irma Vep. Edouard Mathé is fantastic as Philippe Guérande, the always efficient, intelligent and polite newspaper reporter. Marcel Levesque turns in an absolutely hilarious performance as Philippe Guérande's faithful, but loopy sidekick Oscar Mazamette. Delphine Renot also gives a good performance as Philippes' mother, who also gets caught up in the action when she is kidnapped and then later sent on a wild goose chase. Under Louis Feuillade's outstanding direction, these stars helped create an atmospheric and innovative entry into the silent film genre. This is a spectacular movie that deserves multiple viewings! Those who enjoy silent films and appreciate the incorporation of surrealism into motion picture will enjoy this epic the most, but the plot is so engaging and the performances so mesmerizing, anyone can enjoy this film! It's also a great place to start if you're just discovering the magic of silent and/or French cinema. The film has been corrected to the projection speed at which it was originally filmed, features new color tints, new title cards (subtitles) in English, and a memorable music score that adds to the excitement. Don't let this one pass you by!"
WONDERFUL SERIES! GREAT DVD
E. Dolnack | Atlanta, GA USA | 04/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, this DVD is a bit expensive; nor is it admittedly for everyone, but for those who are willing to take a risk will find that great cinema dates much earlier than they ever thought.
It is said of director Louis Feuillade, that this work is the first film of the silent era that doesn't require putting into a historic framework and I agree. At times this film will shock you in how "contemporary" it feels.
The DVD is a decent quality transfer in 1.33:1 standard screen. The episodes are tinted (yellow for interiors, blue for night scenes, red for love scenes, etc.). I recommend setting your DVD player to black & white for the best picture. The score is a mostly piano soundtrack reminicent of Chopin, which was recorded recently, but is remarkably fitting. The title cards are in present-day English.This film is a ten-part crime series spanning a total of over 7 hours. Each episode runs approximately 40 minutes or so. The style is slightly comedic, full of espionage, and alot of fun, not very unlike watching a Bond movie today, minus the sexuality. My advice, buy this DVD and set aside a week to watch an episode or two a night. It truly is one of the supreme pleasures of film."
BUY ME NOW!
Mart Sander | www.martsander.com | 02/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a treat indeed! Not reviewing the film (which is really good) I would like to discuss the technical data. The transfer is quite good, although not the best possible (i.e. the special features - two ultrashorties - are of amazingly good quality), but this is in no way the fault of the producers of this DVD. The picture is gently toned in sepia, green or blue thus assisting the scene. The new soundtrack is really superb: a small concert orchestra (possibly a septet) plays typical silent film horror music, with sometimes the popular tunes of the period melted in effortlessly. I have sometimes used this DVD simply for the purposes of music! The included booklet is very useful as well. All in all - you are unlikely to find a better silent movie, transferred in correct speed, with great score, very sensible actors, and good quality. Not to mention the MOOD...! My only complaint is that all the old French texts have been dropped and have been replaced with still image texts in English, but that really is not important. Grrrrrreat job, thanks!"
More if want!
acidtest | Paris, Paris France | 09/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the addicts, the french cinemathèque has saved and restored 5 Feuillade movies of Fantomas (1913-1914)available on DVD on the french site of Amazon : ensure that your player can read DVD from Zone 2 (ie Europe and Japan) As it is silent, almost no language barrier (some scene title in French) And it is Huge, Historic"