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.
Available only with our release of Franju’s Judex, both films pay 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.
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.