Friday, November 28, 2008

The perfect villain...

I think one of the hardest things for a writer to do is to create a character who is essentially bad but that the reader can have sympathy for, or even grow to like. There have been a few good examples of this in film, like Silence of the Lambs, Falling Down or Scarface. But the most perfect villain award would have to go to the real-life, French criminal, Jacques Mesrine.

The second part of a two-part biopic film has just come out on the life of Jacques Mesrine, one of the most famous criminals France has ever produced and a man that has become a bit of a cult hero. Jacques Mesrine: L'Ennemi Public n°1, by J.F. Richet, follows on from L'Instinct de Mort, taken from the autobiography Jacques Mesrine wrote while in prison.

He's been called many things, from 'The Man of 1,000 Faces' to 'The French Robin Hood', and I imagine that his life had screenplay writers just itching to tell his story in film.

In the 1960's and 70's, Jacques Mesrine became internationally infamous for his criminal activities, including bank robberies (sometimes 2 in one day), kidnappings, murders (he himself admitting to killing over 40 people), and prison escapes. His life dramatically came to an end in November 1979 when police sharpshooters ambushed his car just outside of Paris and fired 19 rounds through the windscreen.

So how does a man like this, blatantly a baddie, become some sort of anti-establishment hero, with films being made about him and Facebook pages dedicated to him? Some say he was a misunderstood hero fighting against the establishment for the common people. Some say he was one of the most violent gangster of the century. Some say his assassination by the police was the scandal to end all scandals.

I guess whatever your opinion of him, his story does make good blockbuster fodder...

L'Instinct de Mort- Première Partie

L'Ennemi Public Numèro 1- Deuxième Partie

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