Anarchists of Style: Musidora (Snapshot)

Musidora (France, 1889-1957), née Jeanne Roques, adopted her name from a character in Théophile Gautier’s novel FortunioAs a silent film star, Musidora appeared in dozens of films in the 1910s-1920s.  With kohl-rimmed eyes and dressed in black, she famously exemplified the vamp look in the role of Irma Vep in director Louis Feuillade’s 1915 film Les Vampires

Admired for her femme fatale appearance, Musidora was more importantly an accomplished author, screenwriter, producer, and director for film and stage, and often performed in her own productions. She frequently collaborated with Colette, with whom she had a close relationship, and inspired the Surrealists Andre Breton and Louis Aragon to create the play Le Trésor des Jésuites (1928). An early feminist, Musidora even founded her own production company, La Société des Films Musidora, for the release of the 1919 film La Flamme Cachée (screenplay by Colette). (Foster, p. 274)

Unfortunately, little of her work has been preserved. Below is a clip of Musidora in one of her only extant films, Sol y sombre:

 Sol y sombre (or Soleil et ombre), 1922


Further reading:

Callahan, Vicki. Screening Musidora: Inscribing Indeterminancy in Film.

Callahan, Vicki. Zones of Anxiety: Movement, Musidora, and the Crime Scenes of Louis Feuillade.

Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey. Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary.

Gautier, Théophile. Fortunio.

Musidora Filmography

Pallister, Janis L. French-Speaking Women Film Directors: A Guide.



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