LES VAMPIRES. Episodio 6: Les Yeux qui fascinent

Louis Feuillade

Scen.: Louis Feuillade, Georges Meiers. F.: Georges Guérin. Int.: Édouard Mathé (Philippe Guérande), Marcel Lévesque (Oscar Mazamette), Musidora (Irma Vep/il visconte Guy de Kerlor), Jean Ayme (il Grande Vampiro/conte de Kerlor), Fernand Herrmann (Enrique Moréno/Brichonet/Manuel Irriga), Gaston Michel (Benjamin), Miss Edith (la contessa de Kerlor), Laurent Morlas (l’ufficiale napoleonico), Renée Carl (l’Andalusa). Prod.: Société des Établissements L. Gaumont. DCP. D.: 72’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Les Vampires offers pleasures beyond the surrealist interpretation of – in the words of Louis Aragon – “a sexual revelation” and the glamorisation of criminality. The series was meant to entertain and to distract people from their worries about the war and their loved ones at the front. To this end, the crime story was sprinkled with comedy and a teasing defiance of authority figures. In the role of the ostensibly silly Mazamette, an ex-vampire and assistant to the journalist who persecutes the bandits, the star comedian Marcel Lévesque zestfully outwits his former mates time and again. The Vampires themselves seem an agile mix of the notorious Bonnot Gang and the appealing Apache-gangs, which counterbalances their frightening exploits with an anarchistic and rebellious flavour. Their fantastic and evidently improbable tricks expose the incompetence of the authorities, including the police and crime fighters who tend to take them too seriously. As the elusive and sensual Irma Vep, even Musidora contributed to the amusing aspects of the series. Appearing in each episode in a new disguise, the actress was in charge of ‘informing’ spectators that they were watching Irma Vep: for this she deployed her trademark sidelong glance at the camera and the Apache-pose of placing her hands on her hips. These devices added a playful irony to the otherwise mysterious and disconcerting Irma Vep, and likewise created a crucial understanding between Musidora and the public, as the actress suggested in an interview on Radio Suisse Romande (18 November 1947): “I believe that my audiences and I both feel the same way. We found ourselves thinking, ‘She’s killing people to amuse us, not to frighten us. By the end, we were laughing’”.

Annette Förster

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