19 February 1873|
Lunel, Occitanie, France
|Died||25 February 1925
Nice, Provence (Occitania), France
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, film producer, journalist, poet|
|Known for||Fantômas, Les Vampires|
Early life and career
Feuillade was born in Lunel (Hérault, Occitanie) 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.
Serial films and fame
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".
- 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)
- Louis Feuillade at the Internet Movie Database
- Louis Feuillade, Kinotv.com
- Wakeman, John. World Film Directors, Volume 1. The H.W. Wilson Company. 1987. 319-325.
- On this movie, see A. D'Hautcourt, "Peinture ou Théâtre? Louis Feuillade, Héliogabale et le cinéma français en 1911", The review of inquiry and research 84, 2006