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Judex/Nuits Rouges [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1963]


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Judex/Nuits Rouges [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1963] + La Tete Contre Les Murs [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1959]
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Product details

  • Actors: Edith Scob, Jacques Champreux, Channing Pollock, Francine Berge
  • Directors: Georges Franju
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Aug 2008
  • Run Time: 193 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001B42DXG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,508 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

The magical, rarely seen Judex -- directed by the great Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face) -- was largely unappreciated at the time of its release in 1963. This lyrical and dreamlike picture, a putative "remake" of Louis Feuillade's own 1916 Judex, is as evocative of the silent master's own works as it is the later films of Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí. A French reviewer wrote in 1963: "The whole of Judex reminds us that film is a privileged medium for the expression of poetic magic". Starring the magician Channing Pollock, the divine Edith Scob, and the mesmerising Francine Bergé, Judex concerns a wicked banker, his helpless daughter, and a mysterious avenger. It plays like a fairy tale -- one in which Franju creates a dazzling clash between good and evil, eschewing interest in the psychological aspects of his characters for unexplained twists and turns in the action. The beautifully controlled imagery, superbly rendered by Marcel Fradetal's black-against-white photography, animates a natural world and the spirits of animals all at war with a host of diabolical forces. Franju's Judex and Nuits rouges both paid overt homage to the surreal, silent serial-works of Feuillade. Scripted in collaboration with Feuillade's grandson -- Jacques Champreux -- these films evince the same poetic magic that made the art of that earlier master a cause célèbre not only for the Surrealist movement, but also for the world-renowned Cinémathèque Française. It was the Cinémathèque (co-founded by the legendary Henri Langlois with Franju) that helped resurrect the reputation of Feuillade decades after he'd slipped out of the public consciousness. Nuits rouges [Red Nights] -- released in the UK as Shadowman -- was the second Franju-Champreux meditation upon the films of Feuillade. It aggressively escalates a pulp atmosphere steeped in shocking turns of events to an even more vertiginous level. Here, the object of pursuit is the fabled treasure of the mythical order of the Knights Templar -- which the filmmakers use as the jump-off point for staging a series of fantastic set-pieces. As the Fantômas-esque arch-criminal (known only as "The Man Without a Face", played by Jacques Champreux himself) violently pursues the treasure, the action intensifies amongst a cadre of post-'68 bohemians, the Paris police bureau, and a cult of cowled conspirators. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Georges Franju's two most mindbending films on DVD in the UK for the first time. ---Special Features---- Gorgeous new transfers in their original aspect ratios--New and improved English subtitle translations--Video interviews, for both films, by Franju-collaborator Jacques Champreux--40-page booklet containing newly translated interviews with Georges Franju; newly translated writing by Jacques Rivette, and more!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tony Floyd VINE VOICE on 9 Oct 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film at a Franju season at the National Film Theatre about 30 years ago (gulp), and it has haunted me ever since. Now at long last here it is on DVD. It is as rich and strange and odd and messy as I remembered. The first 20 minutes set the tone with elegance and precision. A banker, wealthy and smug in his country pile, receives several mysterious notes. They say that he must give away half his wealth to those he has wronged or else he will die the next day at the stroke of midnight, on the occasion of his daughter's engagement party. The notes are signed Judex (Latin for judge). The banker arranges to apparently comply with the note's instructions while really planning to cash in even more. He also calls in a private detective to hang around the house and uncover the identity of Judex. His daughter's engagement party goes ahead as planned, a masked ball where everyone wears bird masks. A masked magician performs illusions involving doves and then at the stroke of midnight the banker...well, you'll have to watch and see.

After this well wrought opening, the film becomes something completely different and goes off on an unexpected tangent. You should bear in mind that it is a re-make of a silent serial from 1916, directed by Louis Feuillade who also made the more well known Fantomas and Les Vampires. Fantomas was a sinister master criminal like Dr Mabuse, Fu Manchu or the Bond villains. Judex was intended to be a similar character but a hero instead of a villain. Franju had actually wanted to re-make Fantomas but for some reason this did not happen but he was offered Judex instead.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By MarkusG on 12 Sep 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This DVD contains two films by Georges Franju: Judex (1963) and Nuits Rouges (1973).

Judex feels somewhat like an old or even silent movie, and this is intended. It is based on Feuillade's film from 1916. Franju has captured the b/w "orthochromatic" look and and also used inserted text tableaus to mark new chapters. The story of Judex is quite simple and is about a masked avenger and a villain, and it is not at all realistic. Also, the introduction to and psychology of the characters are barely sketched. In spite of this the plot is full of suspense, and the film has it's own visual style. It is all very entertaining.

Nuits Rouges is made 10 years later and is in the same genre, but in color. Here the villain is the masked powerful being ("the man without a face") whose identity is totally mysterious. And the good side are just normal guys who try to outsmart and escape the vilains hunt for the secret of the knight templars treasure. As in Judex the psychologies and the story is not at all realistic but rather takes place in it's own universe. Here we also have a mad scientist who can make zombies out of humans and use them as killers. All of this is totally hilarious.

I give the films 4 stars and the DVD 5 stars. You get two unique and interesting films for the price of one. The transfer is very sharp, but on Nuits Rouges the voices were a little out of sync. Also included is a thick (47 page) booklet with interviews and stuff. Recommended to everyone interested in cinema.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Creagh on 29 May 2009
Format: DVD
I first saw Franju's Judex at an international film festival in the mid-60s and it has remained a core film experience for me ever since. Franju's certainty of phrasing, the faultless use of the medium of monochrome, the flow of the narrative, and the characterisations that all the leads bring to their roles in this mannerist morality fable work as perfectly now as they did then. I have moved from a home-recorded VHS version, to a bought VHS version, to a muddily unwatchable DVD cover, to this Masters of Cinema edition. This is the best-produced version by far: it should bring Judex to the wider audience many critics and film-lovers have long felt it has deserved.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By tallmanbaby TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Sep 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Despite the billing George Franju was not a great director. He has a certain visual flair, and within his limits he can produce intensely memorable images and sequences, but he has absolutely no ability to direct actors or ensure a satisfactory narrative. He did not produce a consistent body of great films. But he did however produce a handful of masterpieces.

Judex is a film I saw at the University film society back in the early eighties, and it stuck in my memory ever since. I did not realise at the time just how odd a film it was, it was filmed in 1963 in black and white, with a narrative that harks back to earlier film serials, in fact it is the second remake of a 1916 film. The DVD cover indicates what is the best sequence in the film, a man with a bird's head mask enters a masked ball, filled with other similarly bird's headed guests. The music by Maurice Jarre is outstanding. The sequence can be tracked down on Youtube.

Judex avenges injustice, in this case a corrupt banker. However having started off strongly, he becomes increasingly ineffective and irrelevant, the focus shifts to the pert Francine Berge, dressed in skin tight black or as a nun, ruthless in the extreme. The story lurches about never making much sense, or losing your interest. However it is after the film has finished that it really starts to work its magic. Sequences that seemed contrived start to become iconic and memorable. True enough there is precious little acting in the film, but the cast are striking and attractive, while not called upon to do much, it is unlike anything you have ever seen before. It has a dreamlike logic all of its own.

The other film Nuits Rouges, from 1974, was also filmed as a tv serial though this is a film in its own right, albeit not an entirely convincing one.
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