Two new DVDs feature films almost a century apart that, taken together, remind us how strong and wide-ranging the French passion for film has been.
The older of the films — and much the longer — is "Les Vampires," the legendary French serial from 1915 and 1916. Directed by Louis Feuillade, these 10 episodes extend over 6½ hours of enigmatic adventure cinema.
Les vampires, as it turns out, is the name of a vast criminal association that a crusading journalist (is there any other kind?) attempts to unmask. Keep an eye out for the deadly Irma Vep, clad in black and played by the single-named Musidora.
"Le Havre," though it came out last year, displays a particular brand of deadpan absurdism that echoes the accomplishments of silent film. Seeing it makes one think that Buster Keaton isn't dead, he's alive and well in Finland.