Zones of Anxiety
Movement, Musidora, and the Crime Serials of Louis Feuillade
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
An evening’s screening of Louis Feuillade’s Juve contre Fantômas set in motion a rather remarkable sequence of events for me. The viewing produced an essay for a course on French cinema, and in turn an enthusiastic suggestion from the professor, Judith Mayne, that I pursue Feuillade’s films as a dissertation topic. ...
Introduction: Writing a Feminist Poetic History through the Cinema of Uncertainty
What would it mean to write a feminist history of the cinema? A number of studies have influenced my thinking on this question since I first began working on the crime serials of Louis Feuillade: for example, Sumiko Higashi’s Cecil B. DeMille and American Culture, Judith Mayne’s Directed by Dorothy Arzner, ...
1. Louis Feuillade and the Cinema of Uncertainty: Scenes of Dislocation in Early Cinema/History
This book is an effort to situate the crime serials of Louis Feuillade within early film history from an explicitly feminist perspective. To a certain extent, I will argue that a series of six films made by Feuillade between the years 1913 and 1920 can be read as one text. ...
2. The Fantômas Series: Cinematic Vision and the Test of “Immediate Certainty”
The opening moments of the first episode in the Fantômas film series (1913–14) feature a prescient bit of dialogue when the startled crime victim, Princess Danidoff ( Jane Faber), inquires of the well-dressed thief suddenly before her: “Who are you?” This question is, in effect, the distillation of the epic battle that is to be played out in the series ...
3. “Qui? Quoi? Quand? Où?”: Interrogating Woman in Les vampires and Judex
The recursive patterns of repetition and reversal are accelerated in Feuillade’s next film series, Les vampires (1915–16), where the blocks of activities and number of characters significantly multiply in a seemingly random fashion. Over ten episodes, Les vampires follows the exploits of Philippe Guérande (Edouard Mathé), ...
4. Stigma and Stigmata: The Cries and Cure of the Fantastic Narrative
With Judex, Feuillade’s serials make a decided shift toward a more strongly pronounced melodramatic narrative structure. This movement is logical in that melodrama, like the mode of the fantastic, is preoccupied with questions of knowledge and visibility. ...
Afterword: The Cinematic Legacy of Feuillade and Musidora and a Different Way of Knowing
Olivier Assayas’s invocation of Irma Vep in a 1996 film is but one of many repetitions of the Irma/Musidora character in cinema history. Indeed, the figure is one that haunts not just Feuillade’s texts but marks a significant strain of French cinema and can even be seen in other national cinema contexts (e.g., Fritz Lang’s Spiders, 1919). ...