blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Judex (1916) ch01 – The Mysterious Shadow

The first chapter (proper) immediately follows the prologue, with Yvette Andréyor taking over the lead (possibly for the rest of Judex). Unlike her father, she’s swayed by the mysterious Judex’s demand–half her father’s fortune was to go to charity or he’d be killed.

Andréyor, shedding herself of gold-digging fiancé Georges Flateau, gives away the entire fortune before her father’s even in the ground. Including the family castle. So Andréyor has to send away her adorable son and move away, in anonymity, to make a paltry living teaching piano and English.

Meanwhile, The Mysterious Shadow introduces Judex. He’s a tall skinny guy (René Cresté) with a distinct hat and cape. He makes a base underneath some ruins. His base, however, is not the ruins. It’s a very modern base. There, his brother (Édouard Mathé) works as sidekick… resurrecting Andréyor’s father (Louis Leubas). Judex, it turns out, isn’t a murderer. In fact, he’s a little sweet on Andréyor, finding her in her self-imposed exile, and promising to come to her aid if needed.

Turns out she might need the aid because one of her students has a scummy brother who tries forcing himself on her. Andréyor fights him off, only for the man to complain to already introduced criminal types Musidora (who lost her fake job as governess when Andréyor gave away the fortune) and Jean Devalde. Devalde hatches a plan to kidnap Andréyor, unaware of her true identity.

There’s a lot of story this chapter. Director Feuillade keeps it moving, with Andréyor an extremely sympathetic protagonist. Feuillade’s shots are more distinct this chapter–he really likes vertical composition. He also has one and a half jarring jump cuts. The vertical composition is far more successful.

Hopefully goofy (but well-meaning) private investigator Marcel Lévesque gets to come back. He too gets the boot with Andréyor’s dissolving of her estate.

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