The Colonel’s Account

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 1, 2015

And now, Louis Feuillade. Geoff Gardner, posting on the tremendous Senses of Cinema website, refers to Feuillade as the cinema’s “first master.” ( It’s a notion that no longer raises any eyebrows. Feuillade started his quite astonishingly prolific career as a film director about a year and a half before D.W. Griffith. The selection of Feuillade films on this North American version of the Gaumont dvd collection catches him comparatively early in his career trajectory. In these films there are hints of bigger things to come. And in these early films some of the bigger things have already arrived.

First, the excellent Jonathan Rosenbaum, then writing for the Chicago Reader, gives us a bit of an introduction to Feuillade in general, and to the crime serials for which he is now most appreciated:

And now, we proceed with The Colonel’s Account.

IMDB tells me that this is M. Feuillade’s 12th directorial effort. Given the volume of film’s produced by the big production companies at this time, as well as the manner in which they were produced and distributed, that is early days indeed.

The verdict? Fantastic! He is wonderfully assured. The table conversation at the start is energetic and, more, quite skillfully directed. It’s a long shot, but eye lines and dramatic underscoring—making it clear who is speaking and who is reacting and what it means—make the scene very readable. The comedy is very well executed. Bourgeois civility starts to fragment when that nice old man starts to tell the story of his heroic exploits. This account quickly becomes gratifyingly violent, superbly kinetic and comic. Ladies hit the dirt, for instance. The counter-attack that the Colonel describes becomes a new movement in the film, related but adding to that which has gone before. It functions as a satisfying escalation—here’s the key to making longer films, as Feuillade would obviously go on to do. “After the Armistice” serves as a nice, restful, amusingly rueful epilogue. Action, but very well acted too. We’ve got a filmmaker to reckon with here.