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Devices of CuriosityEarly Cinema and Popular Science$
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Oliver Gaycken

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860685.001.0001

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Popular Science and Crime Melodrama

Popular Science and Crime Melodrama

Louis Feuillade and the Serial

(p.158) {Chapter 5} Popular Science and Crime Melodrama
Devices of Curiosity

Oliver Gaycken

Oxford University Press

The final chapter argues that the serial film as pioneered by Louis Feuillade contained significant similarities to popular-science films. These similarities are stylistic, as manifested in the tendency to utilize more close-ups than was typical for fiction films of the time, as well as thematic, in the preoccupation with registering the impact of science and technology on modern life. The crime melodrama shares the popular-science film’s ability to arouse and satisfy curiosity. It takes as its source the ubiquity of the inexplicable in modernity. The crime melodrama thus functions as a form of popular-science film, providing its audience with examples of the pleasures and the pitfalls of scientific advances.

Keywords:   Louis Feuillade, serial film, Fantômas, Les Vampires, fantastic realism, close-up, explanatory view, scientific detection, Surrealism

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