Int.: Josette Andriot; Prod.: Eclair
Jasset’s third and last Zigomar film (after Zigomar 1911 and Zigomar contre Nick Carter 1912) is without a doubt the best of this series – which was as successful internationally as it was important historically. Was the reason, perhaps, that La Rosaria (Josette Andriot), accomplice of the bandit Zigomar (Alexandre Aquillère), had been promoted from her secondary role to the lead? At the very beginning of the first part (La Résurrection de Zigomar), Andriot, in a black cat-suit, glides out of a coffin; a slim, mesmerising silhouette. And we remain mesmerised, long after the last shot of the film. For her final, wicked smile shows us how much she is going to enjoy turning imprisonment into an opportunity to hoodwink Detective Broquet and make a fool him yet again. For no prison cell in the world is likely to detain for very long a woman who, dressed as an oriental dancer, can deploy a trained circus elephant to rip out and make off with a safe full of cash (L’Eléphant cambrioleur) or, disguised as an elegant tourist, handle explosives and aeroplanes (Le Brigand de l’air). So Jasset made the shape-shifting, elusive bandit-heroine the eponymous star of his subsequent series, the protean shape-shifter, the elusive spy Protéa. Victorin Jasset began working in the series format in 1908 with Nick Carter (six short episodes, shown at two-weekly intervals) and continued with it until his untimely death in 1913. All film histories have sung the praises of Louis Feuillade, while only a faint and superficial memory of Victorin Jasset remains. But he was the first to bring to the screen, well before Feuillade’s Fantômas (1913) and Les Vampires (1915-1916), the thrilling adventures of Zigomar and of Protéa. These films, suffused with generous amounts of self-irony, had a wonderful knack of telling audiences that everything they saw on the screen was pure fantasy, joyfully, playfully poking fun at the mystery adventures that Feuillade directed with such serious, heavy-handed and punctilious realism.
Vittorio Martinelli, Le dive del silenzio, 2001, p. 16