My goal during this post is to deliver a love bomb about Louis Feuillade’s “Les Vampires.” IMDB link here. Netflix link here. Shot in 1915, this is a series of short silent films chronicling the (mis)adventures of the notorious Parisian criminal gang Les Vampires. Here’s what I love about it:
* I love how when one of the villains is struck by a new opportunity to do evil, that they gloat over it. For a long time. Visually.
* I especially love when Irma Vep does it.
* Speaking of Irma Vep, I love Musidora as the evil Irma Vep. In this screen cap the background supplies her with an Art Nouveau halo while she plays the part of an angelic maid. Look at her. We are almost fooled.
* I love how Mazamette (the sidekick) is such a natural comedian, and how he breaks the fourth wall and hams it up to the audience.
* I love it when a heated two minute conversation between Guérande and Mazamette (our two heroes) with tons of gesturing, pantomiming, and making faces ends up being something like, “Mazamette confesses he got lost.” in the intertitle (intertitles are where in silent films a frame is displayed which has some dialog or narrative information in writing.)
* I love making up what they’re actually saying in my head.
* I love how the film is tinted to denote dark or light. Having a character in a scene walk over to a light switch and turn the tint of the film from blue (denoting dark) to sepia (denoting light) is really delicious.
* I love how naive these films are. A person could say that the worst thing about these films is that they were working in an exciting new artform, and the best thing about these films is that they were working in an exciting new artform.
* Mmmmmmmmmmm. Poisoned pens, sleeping gas, secret passageways, hypnotized dopplegangers, and an ill-fated ballerina in a bat costume.
* I love the sense of composition in the cinematography.
* I love that we live in a world where people care enough about this art form to preserve, restore, and distribute something like this that has an admittedly small audience.
I love old films, and I love very odd things. Les Vampires is both. If you like old films you will love “Les Vampires.” You will also love “Ella Cinders” with Colleen Moore. Now STOP BEING SUCH CYNICAL EFFING DOUCHEBAGS, YOU INTERNET!