Director Louis Feuillade is most famous for his stylish, anarchic serials featurig criminal masterminds, caped superheroes and crusading reporters. One of his most famous titles is Fantomas, which involves the titular supervillain and the intrepid policeman who pursues him. In celebration of the film’s 100th anniversary, it was given a 4K restoration. That restoration is finally available in North America. As always, thanks to Kino Lorber for the review copy.
I will be reviewing the release and not the film itself but if you have never seen a Feuillade serial, you are in for a treat. Fast-paced, mad and thoroughly French, his serials were considered trashy fun in their day and the reputation holds up. I should point out, though, that many Feuillade fans have definite favorites among his “big three” serials: Fantomas, Les Vampires and Judex. I recommend trying them all before making a decision as to whether Feuillade is for you.
The main selling point for this disc is the 4K transfer and it does not disappoint. Crisp and clear, viewers can drink in every detail of a scene, from the costumes to the wallpaper. Blu-ray quality releases are especially appreciated in pre-feature film as these movies tend to be stingy with their closeups (if they use them at all) and the extra clarity can make a world of difference in appreciating performances. After all, these pictures were shot with the idea that they would take up an entire movie theater wall, not just the comparatively tiny home theater or computer screen.
While the 2010 DVD release replaced the French intertitles with English translations, the Blu-ray keeps the French titles and has optional English subtitles, which would definitely be a plus for multi-lingual viewers who wish to enjoy the original language.
The Blu-ray extras are identical to what is offered in the 2010 DVD release (on three discs), including the moody orchestral score. We also get two audio commentaries, a gallery of Fantomas artwork, two Feuillade-directed short films (The Nativity and The Dwarf) and a ten-minute documentary on Feuillade.
Buy? Yes, this new release represents a significant jump in quality over the 2010 DVD release, which is still very good but lacks the gorgeous clarity of the Blu-ray. Feuillade fans will be pleased with this set.