Monday, February 27, 2006

Véronique et Fantômas

A few days ago, the world changed in a subtle but significant way. Krzysztof Kieslowski's THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VÉRONIQUE (1991), starring the celestial Irène Jacob (pictured above), was released somewhere in the world on DVD. In France, specifically; one of its two countries of the heart. Those who feel as strongly about this story of metaphysical longing as I do may want to go straight to and order the region-free PAL French import, released by MK2. The feature and all of the extras include English subtitle options, which suggests that the imminent UK release from Artificial Eye will likely be utilizing the same master. The big difference here is that the first 20,000 copies of the MK2's LA DOUBLE VIE DE VÉRONIQUE include an actual six-frame strip of film from a 35mm print. I'm indebted to reader Jason Minnix for the tip -- I ordered my copy straight-away.

Then I went over to with the intention of ordering another Artificial Eye title, their new three-disc set of Louis Feuillade's FANTOMAS. I already have the three disc French set, which includes all five of Feuillade's Fantômas serials, but I'd naturally love to have these in English now that they're available. But is saying that the title is "usually dispatched in 4 to 6 weeks"... in God's name, WHY? Artificial Eye can't be more than a taxi ride away from their shipping room. Anyway, I was discouraged; when I turn to Amazon of any stripe, it's because I want and expect something now, or at least within the coming week. If anyone knows of a venue offering more immediate gratification where the Lord of Terror is concerned, let me know.

Interesting thing about the Gaumont poster art pictured above: it's censored. I'd never noticed this before, but in the original book cover art by Gino Starace, Fantômas' right fist is clenched around a dagger that has been recently plunged into someone. It was a shattering image when it was unleashed upon the world in 1911 -- I'm certain it inspired F. W. Murnau's opening shot of FAUST (1926). If you'd like to learn more about FANTOMAS, you can check out my essay on the book series in HORROR: ANOTHER 100 BEST BOOKS, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman.

Finally, I should mention that the 124th issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG (with beauteous, mushroom-munching Kumi Misuno on the cover) was mailed to subscribers and our distributors last week. First class subscribers may already have it in hand. If you're not already one of the VW elite, check our website's "Current Issue" option for more details and be sure to click on the cover for a free sample preview.

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