Agony of Byzantium (1913)
Alternate Titles: “L’Agonie de Byzance,” “The Agony of Byzance”
This will be the last Feuillade film I look at for a while – at least until I get around to watching “Les Vampires” later this year. It is the newest of all the short, non-“Fantômas” pieces I have reviewed, being released in October, 1913. In it, Feuillade attempts to create a historical epic on a very limited budget and entirely on indoor sets. He almost succeeds, but I have to point out that movies like “Judith of Bethulia” were shot around the same time and that battle scenes had been staged far more effectively in both “The Massacre” and “The Battle at Elderbush Gulch.” In other words, this is one area where D.W. Griffith surpassed Feuillade, although the freedom of using exteriors and his larger budget were surely factors. However, it also lacks human interest and compelling characters, which Feuillade was entirely capable of generating in other instances. The movie followed the First Balkan War, and at least one historian has seen its subject matter – the fall of Byzantium to the Turks in 1453 – as a political statement on contemporary events. Indeed, a year later Turkey and France would be on opposite sides of World War One, although most French propaganda would focus on the more immediate threat of Germany by that time.
Director: Louis Feuillade
Starring: Luitz-Morat, Renée Carl, Albert Reusy
Run Time: 29 Min, 38 secs
You can watch it for free: here.