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Question: What did you think of Les Vampires?
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Author Topic: Movie Review: Les Vampires (1915)  (Read 94 times)
Dave Gray
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« on: October 13, 2021, 11:15:43 am »

Les Vampires (1915)

Premise: A reporter covering a murderous criminal group in Paris becomes their target as he closes in on their secrets.

Rating: Considering the obvious hurdles, it wasn't a total slog.

This is black and white.  It's silent.  It's French.  And it's seven hours long.

I don't expect anyone to watch this and I only saw it as part of a project I'm doing to educate myself on old films.  To even call this a movie isn't right, as it's essentially a mini-series.  It's broken up into 10 parts.

Silent films are obviously hard to watch sometimes.  They have to be intentionally overacted and often, you get way more screen-time dedicated to an idea than is actually needed.  There isn't a lot of subtlety in how things are done because you really have to drive the point across.  If someone is concerned about time, it's not like a quick shot of the eyes and a  glimmar1n0pse of a watch is enough.  You have to watch a guy look around and huff and tap his watch face and he makes eye contact with the camera for 10 seconds.

And even for a silent film, this is really old, so basic techniques aren't the norm yet.  There is the rare close-up but the camera almost never moves.  This is a hindrance, but it already highlights when the film does something groundbreaking.  Stunts or any kind of even remotely clever camera work is impressive, because you know it was one of the first to do this kind of thing.  There is no voice, but there are very few sound effects.  ...a doorbell once or twice, but that's it.  There is a blue hue pasted over the whole frame to indicate darkness.  There are a few stunts that are funny because they're obviously just throwing a lifeless dummy off a roof or something.  But there are also a few stunts that are legitimately cool, particularly one where a characters wraps a rope around herself like a yo-yo and rolls off a building as it untwines.  It looked pretty real, so I'm not sure how that was done.

The story itself isn't half bad.  It's a crime thriller with some supernatural elements.  The story is epic and sprawling, though and the main villains keep changing.  And some weird stuff happens -- people die off screen and there are quite a few time jumps.  Through it all, though, not terrible.  I followed the story and was a little bit invested, even though it felt like homework.

I don't expect anyone to ever watch this and I know that coming to the table with a 7 hour silent French film makes me come across as a super-hipster.  But I wanted to write this review anyway, to document what I'm watching.

I drink your milkshake!
Fau Teixeira
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2021, 06:17:05 pm »

I know that coming to the table with a 7 hour silent French film makes me come across as a super-hipster.

I think even the hipsteriest of hipsters would be embarrassed to make this statement.
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