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.