Fantômas
  • Fantômas
A

Killer Serial

Urban anxiety is nothing new. During 1913 and 1914 Parisian moviegoers felt it when watching Louis Feuillade’s landmark silent film series Fantômas, in which the eponymous masked villain and master of disguise turned their familiar, unsuspecting city into a dangerous, scary setting for criminal conspiracies, kidnappings, and killings. Largely shot on location, this five-part serial, based on the hugely popular pulp novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, instilled a delicious sense of unease in those who flocked to see it. Although Fantômas was pursued throughout the series by police inspector Juve and journalist Fandor, he proved an unstoppable anarchic force within respectable French society.

Fantômas’s singular, subversive blend of the quotidian and the fantastic enamored the serial to André Breton, Louis Aragon, and other Surrealists. Pre-dating D. W. Griffith’s game-changing The Birth of a Nation by two years, this equally pioneering work is the godfather of long-form crime dramas that followed, from Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse films to TV’s The Sopranos. Even Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated cinematic cocktails, which also mix the mundane and the murderous, raise a glass to Feuillade.

Fantômas is the first great movie experience, Feuillade the first director for whom no historical allowances need to be made,” film historian David Thomson says. “See him today and you still wonder what will happen next.”

John Ewing
Curator of Film

Shown in Morley Lecture Hall. Each program $10, CMA members $7

Film
Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 6:45 pm to 8:45 pm
Fantômas Parts 1 and 2

This seminal screen serial focuses on a black-clad assassin and master of disguise (Fantômas) who terrorizes pre-WWI Paris while avoiding police inspector Juve. Parts 1 and 2. (France, 1913, silent with English intertitles and music track, b&w, Blu-ray, 116 min.)

Film
Friday, June 8, 2018, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Fantômas Part 3

This seminal screen serial focuses on a black-clad assassin and master of disguise (Fantômas) who terrorizes pre-WWI Paris while avoiding police inspector Juve. Part 3. (France, 1913, silent with English titles and music track, b&w, Blu-ray, 90 min.)

Film
Sunday, June 10, 2018, 1:30 pm to 3:45 pm
Fantômas Parts 4 and 5

This seminal screen serial focuses on a black-clad assassin and master of disguise (Fantômas) who terrorizes pre-WWI Paris while avoiding police inspector Juve. Parts 4 and 5. (France, 1914, silent with English titles and music track, b&w, Blu-ray, 131 min.)