Tragic Error (1913)

by popegrutch

Tragic Error

Alternate Title: Erreur Tragique

This early Feuillade is something of a reversal of “The Obsession.” Here, instead of a woman driven to obsession by her fixation with palmistry, a man is driven to obsession with his suspicion of his wife. The Marquis de Romiguières (played by René Navarre) is married to a lovely and charming young woman (Suzanne Grandais, also in “Le Mystères des Roches de Kador” and “The Heart and the Money”), but while he is in Paris on business, he sees a film that disturbs him. There is Suzanne, in the background, with another man on her arm! He buys a copy of the film and looks at it under a magnifying glass to be sure. Later, when he finds a note from her estranged brother, he puts it all together and decides that she is unfaithful, sabotaging the carriage she will take to meet her “lover” so that she will pay for her crime. Now, there’s two things I found interesting here: one was the portrayal of the movie theater and the film-within-a-film (a slapstick comedy in which a tramp beats up some policemen). The French “cinema” is a very small Nickelodeon-style space, but with room for three musicians at the front. The other thing is, once again, Feuillade’s willingness to shoot in the dark, both here and in the marquisse’s bedroom. Where Griffith’s “Avenging Conscience” from a year later seems overlit to me for a horror story, Feuillade (or his unknown cameraman) appears willing to show a very darkly lit room, and is able to make it work well. One shot even has the marquis enter a darkened room before bringing up the lights – trusting the audience to anticipate the new space. So far as I recall, I haven’t seen another filmmaker of the period use darkness so well.

Director: Louis Feuillade

Starring: René Navarre, Suzanne Grandais, Paul Manson

Run Time: 24 Min, 34 secs

You can watch it for free: here.