Tag Archives: Tim Major

Les Vampires: a dream of silent cinema

This is a guest post for Silent London by Tim Major, a writer of speculative and weird fiction. His short stories have been selected for Best of British Science Fiction and The Best Horror of the Year. His next novel, Snakeskins, will be published by Titan Books in spring 2019. Find out more at www.cosycatastrophes.com

There are moments when I experience a twinge of surprise that I’ve written a long-form non-fiction book about Louis Feuillade’s 1915–16 crime serial, Les Vampires. I’m a novelist and short-story writer rather than a film writer. While I love silent film, it’s far from my specialism. Even so, when I was invited to write a book for the Midnight Movie Monographs series from Electric Dreamhouse Press, Les Vampires was my first choice.

Les Vampires exists in a strange hinterland between the ‘cinema of spectacle’ and the narrative and montage techniques being developed concurrently by filmmakers such as DW Griffith. Nowadays Les Vampires is accepted as highly important in the canon – it laid the groundwork for many staples of crime films as well as the conventions of episodic drama now more likely to be experienced on TV – but it’s equally likely to be mentioned as an example of one of the world’s longest films, at seven hours. Frankly, I’m appalled that the serial gets referenced so much, but seems to be watched relatively little. Continue reading Les Vampires: a dream of silent cinema

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