Les nuits rouges (French Edition)

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How tall! How beautiful!

Double Bill: Judex + Nuits Rouges « Taste of Cinema - Movie Reviews and Classic Movie Lists

Do you hear the pipes Of the shepherds who lead their herds Towards his humble cradle! Of this world ignoring love, Where today starts his stay, Let him be king for ever! Quel accueil pour un Roi! Point d'abri, point de toit!

Jours gris et nuits rouges dans l'Argonne. Douze fresques de l'action garibaldienne

What a welcome for a king! No shelter, no roof!

In his manger he is shivering with cold O sinner, without waiting for the cross, Jesus is suffering for you! Gloire au ciel! Peace to all! Glory to heavens! Silent night, Holy night All is calm, all is bright Round yon virgin, mother and child Holy infant, tender and mild Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night Son of God, love's pure light Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord at thy birth Jesus, Lord at thy birth.


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Silent night, Holy night Shepherds quake, at the sight Glories stream from heaven above Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah. Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born. Thursday, April 8, Nuits rouges. With Nuits rouges , Georges Franju returned to the territory of Louis Feuillade, whose adventure serials also provided the inspiration for Franju's Judex. Made a decade later, Nuits rouges is far wilder, more garish and absurd, than its predecessor: if Franju's Judex captured the mystery and poetic magic of Feuillade, this later tribute is all about the pulpy delights of Feuillade, the over-the-top pleasures of a ludicrous, convoluted narrative, secret conspiracies, spies and killers in stylized costumes.

The narrative revolves around the mythical treasure of the Templars, a secret long guarded by this secret society and coveted by all others who suspect its existence. The nameless master criminal Jacques Champreux known only as "the man without a face" is one of those who seek this treasure, and is willing to do anything to get it.

Magnesis - Les Nuits Rouges

He is a master of disguise even if many of his disguises, in the grand tradition of movie disguise masters, consist of nothing but a cheap wig or a false nose and often appears in a sleek black suit and red mask, behind which his eyes are insane and unblinking. Quite frankly, this movie is nuts. The elusive Templar treasure provides a slim justification for one loony set piece after another, as the red-masked villain's secret criminal organization squares off against the Templars in their white robes and masks.

The film was edited down from an eight-episode television miniseries, which presumably made more sense in terms of narrative, but here Franju has distilled the story down to its bare essence, one weird moment after another with little concern for continuity. Franju's visual imagination is in high gear throughout, spinning out a goofy, endlessly inventive series of colorful set pieces.

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Thus the red-masked criminal's lair is a cross between a sci-fi compound and a business office. The villain marches through secret passages and sits down behind a silvery desk — cheap and fake-looking, like it's simply been coated in aluminum foil — but then calls his employees over the intercom like he's paging his secretary, and asks for files. His criminal underlings sit in neat rows at typewriters, dressed in black jumpsuits to match their boss' outfit, though without the nifty red mask. Franju is obviously toying with his genre lineage here, drawing on Feuillade's black-suited spies and adventurers, all the weird secret organizations, the rappelling along rooftops, the strange technology that's more or less represented by cardboard boxes and TV rabbit ears.

Franju also respects another standard of the genre: the lousy, hammy performances and awkward dubbing that infuses the film with such a disorienting, amateurish disconnect. The multinational cast hardly delivers any convincing performances, and some of the smaller players are especially laughable: a professor Henry Soskin makes his big death scene absolutely hysterical by squealing melodramatically as he watches his would-be killer approach.


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  • Franju highlights the moment by zooming in, as though his camera was going to keep probing until its lens was engulfed by the professor's gaping, screaming maw. Franju is obviously delighted by the inconsistent, knowingly silly performances on display here, and he manages to make a virtue of the film's campy self-consciousness by reveling in the unrestrained quality of it all.

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    Certainly, the uneven performances are counterbalanced by the lo-fi visual beauty of the film. Franju's sets might be minimal and deliberately, transparently artificial, but his aesthetic sense makes them beautiful in that knowingly fake way that so often informed the early cinema but, ironically, not so much Feuillade, whose films relied more on surface realism and location shooting.


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    At times, Franju seems to be nodding as much to the golden age of Hollywood cinema as he is to Feuillade. A sequence where the red-masked villain's sexy accomplice Gayle Hunnicutt stalks across the rooftops in a cat burglar outfit and domino mask is especially evocative of Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. It has that same stylized atmosphere, the eerie darkness, the slinky woman tiptoeing across the roofs on a mysterious mission. And when she arrives at her destination and looks down into the room where her target lies sleeping below, Franju switches to a shot from the other side of the window: the woman's face hazy and distorted through the frosted glass, her features abstracted by the distortion.