The Judex Files: The Look
Episode 2 of Louis Feuillade’s JUDEX introduces the Liquorice Kid (La Môme Reglisse), screen left, and we wonder how we ever got by without him.
The Liquorice Kid is one of nature’s aristocrats. A streetwise urchin on the side of good, he walks into the story, wedges himself there, and refuses to budge. There are perhaps elements of Chaplin to this minute hobo, but he’s also a sterling example of the deus ex machina device at its most charming. René Poyen, child star of Feuillade’s BOUT-DE-ZAN series of comic shorts, is an engaging little fellow. Like many of the characters in this serial which keeps a toe in theatre, he can turn to his chums in the audience and display what he’s thinking with facial expressions, gestures, or even silent utterances. But the Kid does this more often than the other characters — just like Chaplin, he enjoys a special relationship with his fans. We know he knows we’re watching, but the other characters are less aware that they’re in a movie. Even Judex doesn’t have the Kid’s cinematic awareness.
You might think constant knowledge that one is being observed by either a camera, or an audience of people ranging in period from 1916-2016 and possibly beyond, depending on how you imagine the Kid’s experience, might be distracting, might put one at a disadvantage. But the Kid is far from put off: basking in our admiration, he enjoys miraculous levels of self-confidence.