In a castle on the edge of the Loire, the count of Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur), a strange old man who has been forgotten by all for ages, decides to leave the world of the living and hides to die. His inheritors, who were called by the doctor, learn that the body has not been found yet and that they will have to wait 5 years to receive their part of the inheritance. Until then, they will have to pay for the upkeep of the castle and the outbuildings. They decide to set up a « sound and light » show telling the story of the family and the income of it would cover the costs of the upkeep. But during the rehearsals, a series of mysterious deaths begins…

This third film directed in 1961 by Franju, founder of the Cinémathèque Française with Langlois and Mitry, almost got lost after it was shot, which is ironic when knowing that Franju’s biggest concern was saving films, every one of them! And now one of his own films vanishes! After his death, some research led to the film, which was found in a laboratory, but under its original and premonitory name: LE CHÂTEAU DES MYSTÈRES. The negative of the film was undamaged and, after solving some minor legal issues, a copy was made. This film may seem a bit trivial compared to Franju’s filmography, but he had to direct it with the means at hand and following the producers’ instructions. At least, it has the advantage of offering a light and easy-going humor, which is uncommon in Franju’s work. He also tries to avoid the detective film side in order to preserve a pure fantastic atmosphere. During an interview in 1959, he said to François Truffaut: “What entertains me is giving life to emptiness. I really enjoy doing that. The presence and the movements of the invisible characters are revealed, and that could not be closer to the truth, by “the intervention” of the cinema, and by the position and the motion of revealing devices. It is necessary that the darkness speak, and that the perception of the human presence is created.”

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