Monsieur Fantômas by Ernst Moerman


Jean Michel as Fantômas.

Ernst Moerman’s Belgian short from 1937 is available for viewing at Ubuweb and is described on its title card as “Un film Surrealiste”. One might equally describe it as “un film amateur” since it’s very much in the home movie mould as was much of the independent cinema of this time. The direction may be perfunctory but the photography is surprisingly good in places. The action, such as it is, concerns an avatar of the Surrealists’ favourite anti-hero, Fantômas, in a series of farcical scenes many of which are filmed on a beach with a few spare props. The most notable moment for me is one which none of the online documentation mentions, a brief appearance by a youthful René Magritte who pretends to be painting Le Viol. Magritte was a great Fantômas enthusiast so his presence here isn’t too surprising.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Dark Ledger
Judex, from Feuillade to Franju