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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The GREAT Grandaddy Of All Crime Thrillers.
For those of you not familiar with Louis Feuillade, he was the artistic director of France's Gaumont Studios from 1907-1918 during which time he directed or supervised over 800 films. He is best remembered today for his groundbreaking crime serials FANTOMAS, JUDEX, and LES VAMPIRES which still have the power to amaze and entertain almost 100 years later. FANTOMAS is the...
Published on September 6, 2010 by Chip Kaufmann

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HISTORY REMEMBERED
For a black and white, silent set of movies, these were fascinating. Acting was better than I expected (not too many raised black eyebrows and rolling eyes!) and I was kept involved in the story line which continued through the five films. Fun though.
Published 19 months ago by Irene C


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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The GREAT Grandaddy Of All Crime Thrillers., September 6, 2010
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
For those of you not familiar with Louis Feuillade, he was the artistic director of France's Gaumont Studios from 1907-1918 during which time he directed or supervised over 800 films. He is best remembered today for his groundbreaking crime serials FANTOMAS, JUDEX, and LES VAMPIRES which still have the power to amaze and entertain almost 100 years later. FANTOMAS is the earliest of the three dating from 1913-14. It is the blueprint for countless crime serials that would follow where an archcriminal who is a master of disguise and head of a vast criminal empire (Fantomas) is doggedly pursued by a dedicated "supercop" (Inspector Juve) and his sidekick (Fandor) who are determined to bring him down.

FANTOMAS was conceived on a grand scale. It breaks down into five films (IN THE SHADOW OF THE GUILLOTINE, JUVE-vs-FANTOMAS, THE MURDEROUS CORPSE, FANTOMAS-vs-FANTOMAS, THE FALSE MAGISTRATE) and runs for over 5 1/2 hours. It is full of disguises, surprises, several comic moments, a touch of the supernatural and surprising brutality. It's also a time capsule of settings and life before World War One which makes it invaluable as history. Rene Navarre and Edmond Breon as protagonist and antagonist give surprisingly restrained (and effective) performances considering that this film was made in 1913. Be warned, once you start it, it's hard to stop watching, even if you're not into silent films.

Although it was the first to be made, FANTOMAS is the last of three great Feuillade serials to make it to Region One DVD. LES VAMPIRES and JUDEX have been available for a few years now and if you haven't seen them you should check them out as well. Gaumont did the restoration back in 1998 and the film looks astonishing for its age. It was first released on Region 2 DVD in the U.K. by Artificial Eye back in 2006. This edition comes with an entertaining and appropriate music score as well as special features that include 2 short Feuillade films as well as commentary from film historian David Kalat. Thanks to Kino Lorber for finally making it available in the USA so that Americans can it enjoy it as well.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Enfantômastic!", September 26, 2010
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
Just like its eponymous antagonist towering over Paris at dusk, Fantômas looms over the thriller genre, presaging the work of Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, and countless others. A series of five films produced in France during 1913-14 by Louis Feuillade, "Fantômas" reflected the era's fascination with outlandish criminal masterminds and nudged the thriller genre into realms of surrealism and poetic sadism. The films are linked together by virtue of the characters, but each can be enjoyed on its own terms.
Part One, "In the Shadow of the Guillotine," introduces the basic dynamic between arch-fiend Fantômas and the duo obsessively devoted to bringing him to justice, Juve of the Sûreté and his loyal sidekick, the reporter Fandor. Fantômas quickly demonstrates his defining characteristics, an uncanny ability to assume new identities and an utter ruthlessness. His exploitation of the character of Lady Beltham borders on the vampiric. The second film, "Juve vs. Fantômas" is a fever dream of pulpish delights including a train wreck, a gun battle culminating in an inferno, and a killer boa constrictor. It concludes with Fantômas blowing up the house with the two protagonists still inside and their fates unknown. Much of Part Three, "The Murderous Corpse," plays like a fin-de-siècle police procedural as the authorities step up their investigative efforts, and the subsequent film, "Fantômas vs. Fantômas," ratchets up the surrealism with a bleeding wall and a costumed ball attended by three guests dressed as Fantômas. The final film, "The False Magistrate," offers the viewer the best opportunity to observe the villain's methods as he assumes the identity of a judicial official and abuses the position for his own nefarious gains.
Modern viewers may find devoting five-and-a-half hours to watch a silent French serial to be unreasonable: the camera remains largely motionless and scenes play themselves out with only a modicum of edits. Those approaching Fantômas with patience and an open mind will be amply rewarded. Images become like a tableau and linger in the mind. Like Feuillade's other thrillers, "Les Vampires" and "Judex," "Fantômas" takes on the texture of a filmed dream, almost like an "Inception" made a century earlier. Identities are exchanged and abandoned with ease while motives and intentions remain unclear.
The films generally look exceptionally good for their age although portions of "The False Magistrate" are lost and replaced with descriptions and a still photograph. While visually pleasing, the musical score, drawn from a French music library, presents some minor issues. Many of the cues selected compliment the action on screen, but in other instances the music overplays the menace or the comedy. Also certain vocal pieces and occasional sound effects (gunshots, applause, etc.) are distracting and reminiscent of budget-priced DVD releases. The exemplary work done by composer Robert Israel on "Les Vampires" and "Judex" is greatly missed here. This is a minor quibble given the overall excellence of the restoration and the supplementary features included by Kino. In addition to a still gallery is an audio commentary by film scholar David Kalat on the first two films. Kalat provided one of the most informative and entertaining commentaries I've ever listened to for Image's release of "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler" and he brings the same insight and enthusiasm to this project. Fuelliade's directorial versatility is demonstrated by a ten-minute film on his career and a pair of short films, "The Nativity" (1910) and "The Dwarf" (1912).
Overall it's a fantastic set that belongs in the collection of anyone with an interest in early cinema, pulp thrillers, or great storytelling.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTOMAS: THE MOVIES' FIRST CRIMINAL MASTERMIND, October 29, 2010
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Casey62 (Chicago, Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
French film pioneer Louis Feuillade's 1913 groundbreaking, epic crime thriller FANTOMAS is a captivating viewing experience. This five part series was based on the popular French pulp novels of the day and served as the prototype for all future films in this vein, including Feuillade's own brilliant follow up LES VAMPIRES and Fritz Lang's terrific DR. MABUSE saga.

The intrigue is all very intricately presented with the title master criminal assuming several different identities along the way in order to throw the authorities off his track. FANTOMAS has a neatly mixed atmosphere of fantasy and realism, with its outrageous premise being played out in and around the streets of Paris before the outbreak of World War 1. This is partly what makes these films so fascinating to watch today.

Presented with an effective music score by Catalougue Sonimage and an informative commentary by historian David Kalat, Kino's beautiful restoration preserves FANTOMAS so that modern viewers can better appreciate Feuillade's innovative masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars those thrilling day of yesteryear, January 4, 2011
This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
The movie serial peaked during the days of silent film, and French Director Louis Feuillade was an important part of that blossoming. I have seen two of his thrillers, Les Vampires and Judex, and found both wonderful. Now comes Fantomas, the 5-part adventures of a master criminal and his nemesis, Inspector Juve. Kino has done its usual fine job with the films, and has included audio commentary and a pair of Feuillade's short films. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTOMAS...100 yr.-old images spring to life!!!, January 4, 2013
This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
Being that FANTOMAS(1913) is now 100 years old, all I need to add to the many excellent reviews is that I'm totally blown away that a movie this old can look this good. The restoration is simply amazing. Depth of background and absolute clarity of image, almost as if it all were somehow being faked, color tints to boot!

It's a complicated serialized film with lots of plotting and daring-do, yet VERY realistic when need be, as deaths abound due to Fantomas' evil schemes.

And it all takes place on the streets of a pre-WW1 Paris! When inspector Juve and his assistant are tailing seperate suspects throughout the streets of Paris, it's really not unlike a similar sequence in THE FRENCH CONNECTION, tailing the suspects on the streets of New York City. Downtown masses (people wandering past) and on-site location filming add to a true sense of realism.

Great stuff all around. Worth it many times over just for the visuals. Simply fascinating to watch, all 5+ hours on 3 dvds. Truly a time capsule into another world that was soon to be lost forever...

The origin of the crime thriller. The inspiration for Dr. Mabuse. ABSOLUTE viewing required. Get it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the first thriller movies., June 24, 2014
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
As I'm watching this, this very moment.. I'm going to rack this one on my "one of my Favorites silent movies" along with Les Vampires. Fantomas is also french made. With English wording. Great acting and really clear as well. One of the best I've seen. Of course their some lines here and their. But be reasonable. For a 100 y/o movie, Its really good. Kino did a good job.
For me these old silent movies is like my window to the past sort of. From the style of clothing to furniture. But going above that. it's has a great story to follow. I also love the art work on the cover myself.. The details of this is, 5 movie on 3 disc. as has special features, There at least and hour long and one is 90 mins long. For a 1913 movie, That's rare. If you really want to get into old movies. I think you be please with purchase. Also Les Vampires. These 2 a must in a Silent movie collection..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dawn of film is astonishing, January 25, 2013
This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
The first expressions of a new artistic medium are often filled with fantastic energy & liberating possibility. Nowhere is this more evident than in the first years of film, when everything about it was new & its potential was seemingly unlimited. And in the silent crime serials of "Fantomas" that potential is explored with astonishing exuberance: the screen overflows with vivid, viscerally powerful images & taps into the primal roots of the psyche. While the craft is there, clearly being developed in shot after shot, it's the sheer wonder of what can be done that captures & enthralls the viewer. In this tale of a master criminal, so clever & invincible that he seems as much above physical laws as he is above human laws, we see the roots of thousands of films to follow ... but how many of them possess such intensity & delight? It's no wonder the Surrealists claimed these films as artistic ancestors after the fact. No time is wasted on anything so mundane as realism -- these stories are as compelling & self-contained as dreams, utterly real while the viewer is inside them. Yet at the same time, as several previous reviewers have noted, being set against a now-vanished world makes them an invaluable time capsule as well. In short, watching isn't a dreary chore in the name of Art -- this is FUN, brimming with adventure & excitement -- highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Fantomas, May 12, 2013
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
After one-hundred years, the story of Fantomas is still enthralling. A criminal mastermind is tracked down by a police detective and a reporter, and he manages to outwit them each time. Imagine if Professor Moriarity were tracked down by Inspector Lestrade and Doctor Watson, with no Sherlock Holmes in sight. Though the camera work is primitive, the story flows well and is a fine look back at early crime cinema.
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5.0 out of 5 stars *Fantomas*, November 27, 2013
This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
*Fantomas* is phenomenal! I am a big fan of pre-1920's silent films. These were made in 1913 & while you might expect dramatic overacting (there are very few intertitles) to move the story along, the actors give restrained, nuanced performances.

Fantomas is a bad guy & a half & he makes that abundantly clear in his first scene where it seems that the lady is going to part with her jewelry or else something incredibly awful is going to happen to her. This is no *good guy kind of bad guy*- he is evil through & through. The business with Inspector Juve is well written & he's no comic opera policeman either.

You won't go wrong watching these.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply loved Fantomas! Extras could have been better, August 16, 2014
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This review is from: Fantomas: Five Film Collection (DVD)
Simply loved Fantomas! Extras could have been better, but at least the films were great.
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Fantomas: Five Film Collection
Fantomas: Five Film Collection by Louis Feuillade (DVD - 2010)
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