La rage du démon
Presented in original French version with English subtitles
The screening will be followed by French short fantastic films, selected by Nicolas Stanzick, codirector of Midi-Minuit fantastique and critic for Cahiers du cinema
Paris, January 2012. The famous American collector Edgar A. Wallace — not to be confused with the crime novelist — invites the media en masse to the screening of a film from 1897, long assumed lost and sometimes regarded as an outright myth: LA RAGE DU DÉMON. According to some, the film is by Georges Méliès. Or perhaps Victor Sicarius, a forgotten friend of the fantasy film pioneer, one versed in dark ways of the occult. The screening becomes a nightmare, the audience gripped by a murderous frenzy — as it has every time the film has inexplicably surfaced, once in each century. Christophe Gans, Alexandre Aja, Philippe Rouyer and other celebrated cinephiles give credence to the legend of this cursed film, “the most troubling in the history of cinema…”
Such a perfect proposition sounds too good to be true, and it is. But truth be told, Fabien Delage’s mockumentary gets it right. Through the history of its phantasmic film, its patchwork of all-too-real evidence and anecdotes, and its celebration of Méliès’ genius, it puts its finger on the thread that ties cinema to its audience. Such games of illusion, artifice and suspension of disbelief are the foundation of the artform. And then there’s its ritualistic nature, the gathering in a dimly room, that the power of imagination might make the impossible tangible. With disturbing sincerity, the most convincing con artists here are the critics, playing themselves, expressing their contagious passion for a film they know in good conscience doesn’t truly exist. A fine reminder that in the confines of the cinema, after all, we don’t watch films — we dream them.
— Nicolas Stanzick