The Case of the phantom fetish: Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires


Ezra E (2006) The Case of the phantom fetish: Louis Feuillade's Les Vampires. Screen, 47 (2), pp. 201-211.

This article examines the recurring image of the severed head in Louis Feuillade's serial film Les Vampires (1915-16), linking it to the anxieties and traumas engendered by the First World War. In particular, it argues for a reconsideration of the image's emblematic status as a symbol of castration, and suggests that the castration complex itself may be best understood as a fetish, acting as a decoy for other losses that cannot be acknowledged overtly (those killed and wounded at war). Like a phantom limb, the castration fetish is a substitute that at once disavows an absence and acts as a memorial to that absence.

Feuillade; Les Vampires; First World War; Feuillade, Louis, 1873-1925 Criticism and interpretation; Silent films France Plots, themes, etc.; World War, 1914-1918 Motion pictures and the war; Criminals France Drama

Screen: Volume 47, Issue 2

Publication date31/07/2006
PublisherOxford University Press