Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Les Vampires (1915-1916) Part 3

Just a bit about director Louis Feuillade

Born in 1873, during his lifetime, Feuillade would go on to direct a whopping 700 films!  He actually wrote 800 screenplays in his lifetime as well.  His film career started Le Maison Gaumont in 1905.  He starting directing films for them in 1906, starting with Un coup de vent under artistic production director Alice Guy (who was the first woman in world ever to direct a film).  He directed or produced 9 short films that year. In 1907, after Mll. Guy left the company,  he was promoted to artistic director in charge of production, her old job.  It was from this position that he film making career really took off.

Though all early filmmakers started out making shorts, even long after solid narrative scripts of stories entered the picture, there are a few that quickly progressed on to something more.  In the United States, D. W. Griffith was constantly trying to find was to lengthen his films in one sitting.  He had experimented with movies in parts, but it was a format that didn't suit him.  So his work pioneering lenght of film is well documented and well regarded, he is the the father of the feature.  Louis Feuillade also deserves credit for the advancement of the length of a filmed story; but his approach was in pioneering and promoting serials.  By 1910 his serials were well established, by 1913 Gaumont began to produce feature length films and along came his Fantomas series.  It remains his most successful series after Les Vampires to this day.  

Still from Fantomas
Fueillade was above all a director who loved to tell a story, and resisted later efforts, especially in France, and especially after World War I, in intellectualized film to a point that most of the narrative was pushed back out.  Famed director in his own right, René Clair, who started out as Fueillade's assistant said of his days working on serials with him "very often we started a film in 12 episodes without knowing how we would finish it."  Feuillade himself later commented 1920, "A film is not a sermon or a conference, even less a rebus, but a means to entertain the eyes and spirit."  He was known to be quite a humble man, the son of wine makers, he appreciate the wider audience, and didn't at all cotton to the new notions that intellectualizing cinema to draw a more cultivated audience was anything laudable.  He continued his statement, "The quality of the entertainment is measured by the interest of the crowd form whom it was created."  Well merely 5 years before his Les Vampires did just that.  Here's part 3.

Note:  quotes taken from liner notes,  in essay written by Fabrice Zagury.

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