France / Italy, 1963 (MIFF 1968, Programme 23)
Director: Georges Franju
Judex is a homage to the past in the form of a remake of Louis Feuillade's twelve episode serial of 1916. As an affectionate tribute to this forgotten genius whose films numbered about 550. Franju has reverently and meticulously recaptured the acting styles, costumes and flat, two dimensional sets of the twilight world of fifty years ago.
The basic concept of the story is a ruthless battle between two private armies—each master-minded by a leader of superhuman cunning, and Franju has juxtaposed these forces of Good and Evil, of Light and Darkness. The complicated plot becomes extremely involved with coincidence and improbability, straining credibility to the limit. But in the end. the wicked banker. Favraux. and the adventuress. Diana, are finally vanquished by Judex, a white Knight of legend, aided by his black-garbed followers and a beautiful acrobat, Daisy.
Franju made Judex between Therese Desqueroitx and Thomas the Impostor, both shown at earlier Festivals. Remaining remarkably faithful to the spirit of the original Judex of 1916, he carefully balances the elements of fantasy and primitive science fiction. To capture the style and spirit of an innocent age. Franju has relied on visual contrasts between black and white. This symbolism is superbly expressed by Marcel Fradetal's photography, creating the exactly right kind of magical, fairytale aura for the film.