Louis Feuillade

Louis Feuillade 1873 - 1925

Born in Lunel in February 1873, he was the son of a wine broker. Born into a well-heeled, bourgeois family, nothing predestined Louis Feuillade to become a cinematic creator. A prolific director of silent films, he became artistic director of the Compagnie Gaumont. He died in Nice in 1925 at the age of 52.

Louis Feuillade and the birth of modern cinema

When his parents died, he was 25. With nothing to keep him in his hometown, he moved to Paris, where he became an accountant in a press office. He then entered the Lunel wine trade, becoming a wine broker between 1902 and 1904. Passionate about literature and theater, he never gave up on a literary career. He has already written several plays, dramas and vaudevilles.

He contributed to several magazines and publications, and on the advice of a friend, he joined Gaumont, where he became a scriptwriter. In 1906, he switched to directing. He was responsible for over 800 films and shorts until his death in 1925. He tackled every genre: burlesque, melodrama, fantasy, peplum... many of which have unfortunately disappeared.

He was the "inventor" of the cinema serial. We owe him the first Fantomas silent films, shot from 1913 onwards. His episodic films "Les Vampires" (1915), "Judex" (1916), "Tih-Minh" (1918) and "Barrabas" (1919) attracted millions of viewers.

His southern origins were to inspire a number of his works. In 1906, he made two short films on the theme of bullfighting: Courses de taureau à Nîmes and Passes du toréador Machaquito shot in the Nîmes amphitheater. In 1919, he shot "Vendémiaire", a hymn to the vine as source of life, a nod to his origins in the Hérault region, which critics described as a "masterpiece of poetic realism".

His films were forgotten with the arrival of talking pictures. However, modern cinema owes a great deal to Louis Feuillade. He was the first to come up with the idea of making children the real stars of comedy series. It wasn't until 1936 that Feuillade's rehabilitation began, thanks to Henri Langlois, who rescued his films when the Cinémathèque Française was founded.