The writer Robert Goffin once described his friend Ernst Moerman (Belgium, 1897-1944) as ‘an extraordinary person, with poetry visible in every gesture of his life’. A passionate surrealist, Moerman’s life was not only short but also uneven. He was close to the Parisian surrealist group in the 1920s. He wrote a theatre play based on the story of Tristan et Isolde and Vie imaginaire de Jésus-Christ and the sardonic poetry Fantômas 33. He was a fan of Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allains' book series about the criminal Fantômas, whom Moerman called 'the demoralizing gentleman', and made him the emblematic hero of his silent film, Monsieur Fantômas, with a musical score by Robert Ledent. The film premièred in the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts on 12 October 1937, on the same bill as Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1929).
In this surrealist silent short film, the masked Mr Fantômas goes through a series of unsavoury adventures in search of his beloved Elvira. Along the way he commits crimes and violates mores.