Louis Feuillade

1° ep.: Le Philtre d’oublie; 2° ep.: Deux drames dans la nuit; 3° ep.: Les Mystères de la villa Circé; 4° ep.: L’Homme dans la malle; 5° ep.: Chez les fous; 6° ep.: Les Oiseaux de nuit; 7° ep.: L’évocation; 8° ep.: Sous le voile; 9° ep.: La Branche de salut; 10° ep.: Mercredi 13; 11° ep.: Le Document 29; 12° ep.: Justice; Scen.: Louis Feuillade e G. Le Faure; Op.: Klausse; M.: Klausse; Int.: Mary Harald (Tih Minh), René Cresté (Jacques d’Athys), Louis Leubas (Kistna), Edouard Mathé (sir Francis Grey), Gaston Michel (dott. Gilson), Georges Biscot (Placide), Marquet (dott. Clauzel), Emile André (dott. Davesne), Manuel Caméré (un indù), Georgette Faraboni (Dolorès Primolini), Jane Rollette (Rosette), Mme de la Croix (Mme d’Athys), G. Lugane (Jane d’Athys); Prod.: Gaumont 35mm. L.: 8081 m. D.: 397’ a 18 f/s. 1° ep. D.: 50’; 2° ep. D.: 30’; 3° ep. D.: 37’; 4° ep. D.: 30’; 5° ep. D.: 27’; 6° ep. D.: 31’; 7° ep. D.: 27’; 8° ep. D.: 29’; 9° ep. D.: 30’; 10° ep. D.: 37’; 11° ep. D.: 31’; 12° ep. D.: 33’. 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

The plot structure of Tih Minh has two underlying themes. The first is sentimental and its purpose is to ensure that the marriage between Tih Minh and Jacques has a happy ending. The second is a detective (and political) story involving the importance of stopping the bad guys from getting hold of a secret document. (…) The story is constructed in such a way that the girl (Tih Minh) has the same narrative importance as the secret documents: both are oriental and both are tossed about between the two sides. The two threads run parallel to each other throughout the plot without either of them being dependent on the other. Despite this the screenwriters ingeniously succeeded in closely interweaving the two themes from the beginning to the end of the film. (…)

The film is divided into twelve episodes nearly all of which conclude with an often rather artificial cliff-hanger ending. At various moments the story seems to come to an end and needs to be kick started to get the action going again. This is usually done by introducing a robbery or kidnapping when everything could have ended quite happily.

The other “driver” that keeps the plot going is deferral: until the bandits are arrested the film can keep going and last more or less forever. In fact the story only ends when the screenwriters seem to have had enough. In the eleventh episode they decide that the English have recovered the war booty and in the twelfth they make the bad guys kill each other off, just as in a good old Hergé story (and the influence of Hergé is clearly present in Feuillade), allowing the hero to leave the stage without getting his hands dirty.

François de la Breteque, Cahiers de la Cinémathèque, n. 33/34, 1981

A few topics for further cross-referencing.
 Tih-Minh: Opulence and Terror; the Villa as Prison and as Refuge (cf. Last Year at Marienbad and The Exterminating Angel); Servants Outclassing Their Masters (cf. The Servant); Expressionism Comes to the Third World, and Vice Versa (cf. Orson Welles’ Heart of Darkness project, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner…).

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Velvet Light Trap, Spring 1996

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