French cinema - the Silent Era
Le Voyage dans la lune (1902)
This early science-fiction fantasy shows some extraordinarily imaginative use of early filmmaking technique.
The first great thriller series in cinema followed the dastardly exploits of master criminal Fantômas.
Les Vampires (1915)
This legendary crime thriller series shocked audiences and made Musidora a star in her role as villainous Irma Vep.
Feyder's first notable film was this adaptation of Pierre Benoît's novel, a lavish production famous for its stunning location shots of the Sahara desert and sumptuous interiors.
This poignant realist comedy-drama featuring a Chaplinesque street pedler is one of Feyder's early achievements, a film of great charm and humanity.
La Roue (1923)
This epic romantic drama is sustained by Abel Gance's imaginative cinematic technique and an extraordinary performance from Severin-Mars.
L'Herbier takes a plain melodrama and transforms it into an enthralling dream-like fantasy, heaving with emotional turmoil.
Les Trois mousquetaires (1921)
This ambitious historical adventure series is arguably the best film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling novel.
La Fille de l'eau (1925)
Not Renoir's best film, but certainly one of his most inspired, a stunningly realised romantic fantasy.
This lavish adaptation of an Emile Zola novel virtually ruined its director but is now regarded as one of his early masterpieces.
Le Joueur d'échecs (1927)
This spectacular historical drama is one of the triumphs of early French cinema, and makes some powerful statements on the futility of war.
Often cited as the greatest film ever made in France, this epic portrayal of the early career of Napoleon Bonaparte is a paean to French nationalism.
Monte Cristo (1929)
This epic adaptation of Dumas' classic novel is a work of breathtaking ambition realised with immense skill and humanity.
Mystères du château Dé (1929)
A bizarre but utterly fascinating surreal short whose meaning seems to change drastically with every viewing.
Un chien andalou (1929)
This perplexing mélange of unrelated images, which include a novel approach to eye surgery, launched the career of cinema's greatest surrealist filmmaker.
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