100 years since Les Vampires was released.


“Louis Feuillade invented American cinema” Jean-Luc Godard

100 years ago, on November 13, 1915, the first episode of Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires was broadcast on Parisians’ screens.

A silent detective series with a runtime of 7 hours and 20 minutes, split into 10 episodes of between fifteen minutes and one hour.




The Story:
The Vampires are not bloodsuckers, instead they steal and kill despite the best efforts of the police, the gang led by the mysterious Irma Vep remains unmasked.
Helped by Mazamette, the journalist Philippe Guérande takes on this fearsome gang, who use any means necessary.

There are many twists and turns, adventures and characters: kidnaps, escapes, deciphering treasure maps and secret codes, people are hypnotized, attend seances, they steal, kill, die and then resuscitate...

These many variations in the storyline can be explained by the constraints of the era, 1915, when all the nation’s forces were fighting on the front and the few remaining technicians and actors could have been mobilized at any time. Louis Feuillade therefore decided to write the scripts on a day-to-day basis and improvise once on set.
He explained each scene to his actors a few minutes before calling action, and when one of the actors eventually left for the front lines, the filmmaker abruptly removed him from his film.

In the same way, when Feuillade had an altercation with actor Jean Aymé, who played the Great Vampire, the director improvised a scene and said to his actor:
“Irma Vep has killed you, your role is over”.


With such aesthetic narrative choices, the series of Les Vampires films undoubtedly had an influence on the surrealist movement that came about a few years later. The Surrealists would indeed see Louis Feuillade as one of the pioneers of automatic writing in cinema. Visionaries, Louis Aragon and Andre Breton even went on to state: “It is in Les Vampires that we must look for the great reality of this century”.
The muse of the vampires, Irma Vep (anagram of Vampire) played by beloved actress Musidora, became the first vamp and femme fatale in cinema.

Olivier Assayas paid tribute to this series in his film Irma Vep, in which a director attempts to shoot a remake of the movie.


Voir la fiche film "The Vampires "

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