AVEUGLE DE JÉRUSALEM, L'
(Louis Feuillade, 1909, France, 8m, BW)
L'Aveugle de Jérusalem (1909)
Blind Man of Jerusalem 1909
Cast: Renée Carl
Director: Louis Feuillade
Duration: 8 mins
A rich man, living in a splendid palace, in the city of Jerusalem, with his daughter and many servants, surrounded by every possible luxury, but blind, is healed of his affliction by Christ. Having regained his sight he does not make this known to his household, but quietly observes them for a time and sees how his servants rob him and even his daughter imposes upon him. Discouraged at his findings he goes out upon the highway where he again meets Christ, but this time He is carrying His cross and being led to Calvary. The sight of the suffering Savior teaches him to forgive his offenders.
In Feuillade’s L’Aveugle de Jérusalem (1909), or The Blind Man of Jerusalem, a blind man is unaware that his daughter is visited by her lover and that his servants are robbing him. He witnesses Christ performing miracles in the street and has his sight cured. Pretending still to be blind, he is horrified to discover how he is being cheated. But the sight of Christ bearing his cross, forgiving his enemies, leads the man to forgive likewise. It is told through mise-en-scène of great simplicity – only two set-ups are used, the interior of the man’s house, and the street outside, each featured twice in alternation. The parable could be Biblical, but it is pure invention – a bold coup in itself. The BFI’s print (all of the films came from the BFI National Archive) has replacement titles which may reproduce the original text or may have been written later (interest from religious bodies saw that a number of these early films were shown into the 1920s and 30s); at any rate, they are in keeping with the film’s moral but modest tone. In its unassuming way, L’Aveugle de Jérusalem is the perfect film.
Biblical subjects seem popular with all manufacturers just now, and Gaumont has produced an exceedingly dramatic picture under the above title. The most moving scenes, the two climaxes, first when Christ restores the sight of the blind man, and the second when the former blind man watches Christ pass, bearing his cross on the way to crucifixion, are so impressive they are not soon forgotten. One's attention is held irresistibly as the former blind man pleads with the Master to know why he gave him sight to see the wickedness of the world, as exemplified in the dishonesty of his servants, the unfaithfulness of his daughter and the cruelty of those who crucified the Master. Then a flood of light breaks over his soul, even as it broke through his darkened vision, and he forgives. No description can convey the dramatic power of this picture. This must be seen to be appreciated. It is toned brown, and in the main the technique is beyond criticism.
Louis Feuillade (born Feb. 19, 1873, Lunel, France—died Feb. 25/26, 1925, Nice) motion-picture director whose internationally popular screen serials were the most influential French films of the period around World War I. Feuillade was a journalist who began his cinema career in 1906 as a scriptwriter. He soon was directing short adventure films. Fantômas (1913–14; Master of Terror), Feuillade’s first serial, established his popularity in both France and the United States. Its swift-moving, intricate plot features a series of thrilling episodes involving clever disguises, trapdoors, kidnappings, hairbreadth escapes, and rooftop chases. It was followed by Les Vampires (1915), which centres on a group of criminals. Despite allegations that it glorifies crime, the film was a huge hit, and it became one of Feuillade’s most influential works. Judex (1916) and La Nouvelle Mission de Judex (1917–18; “The New Mission of Judex”) feature Judex, the daring detective with the sweeping black cape, a righter of wrongs who was the prototype of many future film heroes. The tremendous success of these pictures saved the French film industry, which had been threatened by competition from foreign imports.
Early life and career
Feuillade was born in Lunel (Hérault) to Barthélémy Feuillade, a modest wine merchant, and Marie Avesque. Just beyond adolescence, he showed a deep interest in literature and created numerous drama and vaudeville projects. His excessively academic poems were occasionally published in local newspapers, and he acquired a reputation for his articles devoted to bullfighting. At twelve he was sent by his parents to a Catholic seminary in Carcassonne, which has been credited for his gothic stylization in his later career. His biographer Francis Lacssin has suggested that "the strange, surrealist flashes of anarchy which spark through the work of this pillar of society can only be explained as some sort of unconscious revolt to which he gave rein in his dreams — that is to say, in his films." He then began his compulsory military service in 1891 until 1895, when he married Jeanne-Leontine Jaujou on 31 October 1895. After the deaths of his parents, he went to Paris in 1902 seeking literary success, but would suffer miserably for several years.
At the beginning of 1905, he started to submit screenplays to Gaumont, and Gaumont's artistic director Alice Guy-Blaché both bought his scripts and invited Feuillade to direct them himself. Concerned about his financial difficulties and family to support, Feuillade declined the directing job in order to continue working as a journalist. At his suggestion Guy-Blaché hired Étienne Arnaud to direct Feuillade's early screenplays at Gaumont. But by 1906 he had gained enough confidence to start directing his own scripts, which were mostly comedies. In 1907 Guy-Blaché moved to the United States and upon her suggestion Feuillade was made Artistic Director of Gaumont. He would work for Gaumont until 1918, while at the same time producing his own films, so that by 1925, the year of his death, he estimated that he had made around 800 films. (At the time he started in cinema, a film rarely lasted more than ten minutes). He made films of all types—trick films at the beginning, modeled on those of the great Méliès, comedies, bourgeois dramas, historical or biblical dramas, mysteries and exotic adventures—but he is remembered best for his serial films.
The Fantômas serial in 1913 was his first masterpiece, the result of a long apprenticeship—during which the series with realistic ambitions, Life as it is, played a major role. It is also the first masterpiece in what the modern critic, from both a literary and a cinematographic point of view, would later call "the fantastic realism" or the "social fantastic".
Musidora as Irma Vep in Les Vampires He is credited with developing many of the thriller techniques used famously by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, and others.
1906 The Magnitized Man, Le Coup de vent, Le Thé chez la concierge
1907 Tea at the Porter's House (Le Thé chez la concierge) (the oldest of his films that survives)
1908 The Legend of the Spinner (La Légende de la fileuse) (film with tricks, Méliès style)
1910-13 "Baby" serial: Baby Apache (Bébé Apache) - 1911 (Series of comedies performed by a 4-year-old child, the little Clément Mary, later René Dary - around 90 short films).
1911 Heliogabale (ancient drama)
1911-12 Serial Life as it is: The Defect (La vie telle qu'elle est: la Tare) - 1911 (dramas and realistic comedies - 14 films)
1913-14 Series of Fantômas (Mystery drama - 5 films)
1913-14 Series of Bout de Zan: Bout de Zan steals an elephant (Bout de Zan vole un éléphant) - 1913 (This serial, performed by the little René Poyen, replaces the Bébé serial - 62 short films)
1913-14 Series The funny Life: The Jocond (La vie drôle: le Jocond) (vaudevilles - 5 films)
1915 The Vampires (Les Vampires) (10 episodes) Bout de Zan et l'embusqué (Bout de Zan and the shirker)
1916 Judex (12 episodes)
1918 Vendemiaire (Rural drama during the First-World-War - in 2 parts)
1918 Tih Minh (12 episodes)
1919 Barrabas (12 episodes)
1921-22 Good Mood: Seraphin or the Naked Legs (Belle Humeur: Seraphin ou les jambes nues) - 1921 (vaudevilles - 5 films)
1922 Parisette (12 episodes)
1923 Vindicta (5 stages)
He is primarily known for the serials Fantômas, Les Vampires and Judex.
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