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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka - 5 Serials entitled 'A l'ombre de la guillotine / Juve contre Fantomas / Le Mort qui tue / Fantomas contre Fantômas / Le Faux Magistrat')

Directed by Louis Feuillade
France 1913-14

FANTÔMAS, the mysterious arch-criminal who holds Paris in the grip of terror, was first brought to the screen in this legendary serial by celebrated French cinema pioneer Louis Feuillade.

The creation of authors Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, Fantômas perpetrated the most appalling crimes in 32 hugely popular pulp novels and became a cult favorite of the avant-garde, including the painters René Magritte and Salvador Dali.

Feuillade’s serial was one of cinema’s earliest and most strikingly original crime dramas, starring René Navarre as FANTÔMAS, the master of disguise and leader of a vast army of street thugs, and Edmond Bréon as his nemesis, Inspector Juve. Beautifully restored by Gaumont and the Cinematheque Française, the five episodes of Fantô-mas are among the most fascinating and enthralling Silent films ever made.

***

 

Fantômas [1913-14] is the first great movie experience, Feuillade the first director for whom no historical allowances need to be made. See him today and you still wonder what will happen next...

Feuillade predicts a twentieth-century world to come. Even in the years of the First World War, he looked past the horrific clash of machine guns and cavalry, of mud and dress uniform, to an atmosphere of urban anxiety...

Feuillade's genius is simply measured: he saw that it was possible to achieve intense photographic naturalism and yet convey an imaginative experience of the world. Thus his films still involve audiences. They respond to the startling contrast of the mundane and the unexpected; and they are intrigued by the relentless criminal organizations in Fantômas and Vampires [1915]. All the roots of the thriller and suspense genres are in Feuillade's sense that evil, anarchy, and destructiveness speak to the frustrations banked up in modern society... As Alain Resnais has said, "...Feuillade's cinema is very close to dreams — therefore it's perhaps the most realistic." Not only has Feuillade's pregnant view of grey streets become an accepted normality; his expectation of conspiracy, violence, and disaster spring at us every day.
 

[...]


The films themselves are still hard to see; only good anarchists have preserved Feuillade. [Good anarchists and Gaumont Studios, which fully restored all of the serials discussed here for the 1995 centenary of the birth of cinema.] The serials run between four and six hours, and they are dreamlike if only because of the endlessly regenerating plots. The action is hallucinatory, but the images are astonishingly concrete...Tom Milne has acclaimed the moment in Fantômas when a character in a box at the theater is shown conceiving an idea — to use the actor onstage as Fantômas to replace the real one in jail — in the same shot as we see the [actor on] stage behind her. It is this immediate appetite for the real world and the stirring up of fantastic events that makes Feuillade the most serious of the pioneers. He foresaw that people who went into the dark to participate in stories, no matter how sophisticated their world, were still primitive creatures.

Excerpted from David Thomson's A Biographical Dictionary of Film, Third Edition, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

Posters

Disc 1 - Fantômas. Serial in three episodes. Released April 1913. Produced by Gaumont Studios. Directed by Louis Feuillade.
Film version of the first Fantômas novel, Fantômas.

Disc 1 - Juve contre Fantômas (Juve versus Fantômas). Serial in four episodes. Released September 1913.
Film version of the second Fantômas novel, Juve contre Fantômas.

Disc 1 - Le mort qui tue (The murderous corpse). Serial in six episodes. Released November 1913.
Film version of the third Fantômas novel, Le Mort qui tue.

Disc 2 - Fantômas contre Fantômas (Fantômas vs.Fantômas). Serial in four episodes. Released February 1914.
Film version of the sixth Fantômas novel, Le policier apache (The hoodlum policeman).

Disc 2 - Le faux magistrat (The false judge). Serial in four episodes. Released May 1914.
 Film version of the twelfth Fantômas novel, Le magistrat cambrioleur (The burglar judge).

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Comparison:

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

Distribution Artificial Eye Film Company Limited - Region 2 - PAL Kino Lorber
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
The film contents of this release seem to be the exact same as the Gaumont edition re-released in November of last year in France. The Gaumont appears to have more extra features but they do not offer English subtitles:

Runtime

Disc 1 - 1:01:50 + 54:28 + 1:30:27 (4% PAL Speedup)

Disc 2 - 1:10:51 + 59:46 (Plus 'Who is Fantomas" featurette at 23:30) (4% PAL Speedup)

Total of Serials - approx 4 1/2 hours

Disc 1 - 0:58:26.461 + 1:03:57.625 + 1:37:27.216 

Disc 2 - 1:01:25.014 + 1:15:14.343

Total of Serials - approx almost 5 hours

Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.92 mb/s + Disc 2 - 5.30 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc ONE Size: 46,828,732,769 bytes

Part 1 Fantômas

Size: 14,142,941,184 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC / 1080P 

Part 2 Juve vs. Fantômas

Size: 12,975,144,960 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

 

Part 3 The Murderous Corpse

Size: 19,454,048,256 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

 

Disc TWO

Disc Size: 40,040,840,943 bytes

Part 4: Fantômas vs.Fantômas

Feature Size: 16,997,713,920 bytes

Total Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC / 1080P

 

Part 5: The False Magistrate

Feature Size: 16,997,713,920 bytes

Total Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Disc 1

Bitrate: Disc 2

Bitrate:

Blu-ray 1

Part 1

Bitrate:

Blu-ray 1 -

Part 2

Bitrate:

Blu-ray 1

Part 3

Bitrate:

Blu-ray 2

Part 4

Bitrate:

Blu-ray 2

Part 5

Audio Silent film with music in Dolby Digital 2.0

Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps
Commentaries (on first two parts):

Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps

Intertitle translations English, None English, none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye Film Co. Ltd.

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette 'Who is Fantomas' (23:30) in English
• Louis Feuillade bio - text screens

DVD Release Date: February 20th, 2006

Transparent Double Slim Keep Case
Chapters: Most serials have 4 or more dedicated chapters

Release Information:
Studio: Kino Lorber

 

Disc ONE

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC / 1080P

Disc Size: 46,828,732,769 bytes

Part 1 Fantômas

Size: 14,142,941,184 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Part 2 Juve vs. Fantômas

Size: 12,975,144,960 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Part 3 The Murderous Corpse

Size: 19,454,048,256 bytes

Total Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

 

Disc TWO

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC / 1080P

Disc Size: 40,040,840,943 bytes

Part 4: Fantômas vs.Fantômas

Feature Size: 16,997,713,920 bytes

Total Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Part 5: The False Magistrate

Feature Size: 16,997,713,920 bytes

Total Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

Two audio commentaries by film historian David Kalat

Louis Feuillade: Master of Many Forms (a ten-minute documentary) (10:37)
Two rare Feuillade films: The Nativity (1910 - 13:57) and The Dwarf (1912 - 16:37)

Gallery of Artwork courtesy of Tim Lucas (10:19)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Standard Blu-ray case

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray January 16': This 2016 Kino Classics edition is derived from Gaumont's 4K restoration, presented in association with Eclair Laboratories and the CNC, as a centennial celebration of Feuillade's timeless thriller. It is 1080p running at 23.976 fps and the 5 episodes and extras are housed on two Dual-layered Blu-ray discs. The image quality is stunning and advances massively beyond the old SD. Less of the scenes are tinted but some are - mostly outdoor sequences which are blue. Now, there is some infrequent 'ghosting' but I suspect it may be a conversion of the Silent frame rate - regardless it is a non-issue - the Blu-ray looks fabulous in motion. Subtitles are removable on the re-done French intertitles and text cards (see samples below). The only flaw I could find was that the audio is simple Dolby (lossy) but the score still sounds quite strong (very creepy and mysterious at times) - a lot of woodwind. The supplements with audio commentaries by film historian David Kalat for the first two parts and they are excellent. There is also a 10-minutes documentary; Louis Feuillade: Master of Many Forms from 2009 by Bret Wood and narrated by Daniel May plus two rare Feuillade films: The Nativity (1910 - 13:57) and The Dwarf (1912 - 16:37). Lastly we get a gallery of Artwork courtesy of Tim Lucas that runs a full 10-minutes with beautiful posters etc.

Wonderful release - the clarity of the images is almost beyond belief plus some impressive extras. We give this Blu-ray set a very strong recommendation!  

***

ON THE DVD: I am enjoying every minute of Feuillade's fantasy miracle so far (I'm about 3/4's through). I will continue to report here on my impressions when I have completed.

In regards to the image it looks exceptionally good considering the age of the production (over 90 years ago!). Perhaps even superior to both my Region 1 issues of Les Vampires and Judex. There are, of course, damage marks and the upper portion of the frame displays a occasionally visible line (see first 2 large captures). Title cards and text frames have been redone - there is an explanation of a missing scene - musical accompaniment audio may only be 2 channel but it sounds fabulous. I see fine trailing in some scenes but I can only surmise that it is due to the frame rate adjustment. The intertitle (an incidental) translations are optional - so you can really get in the mood by removing them totally. I am very high on this DVD release and am recommending quite strongly to any who are keen. For Silent or serial fans it is essential viewing.

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


Disc 2

 

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

DVD Intertitle Subtitles Sample

 

 

Blu-ray Intertitle Subtitles Sample

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


DVD 'letter' Sample

 

 

Blu-ray 'letter' Sample

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Covers

  

Distribution Artificial Eye Film Company Limited - Region 2 - PAL Kino Lorber
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
The film contents of this release seem to be the exact same as the Gaumont edition re-released in November of last year in France. The Gaumont appears to have more extra features but they do not offer English subtitles:





 

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