Monday, October 08, 2007

Arsène Lupin - a well-made movie

As I promised before, I'm writing about the movie "Arsène Lupin" which I watched this Saturday.

Arsène Lupin is a well-know literary figure, a character with as many adventures over time as Sherlock Holmes (although Arsène is a French gentleman-thief while Sherlock Holmes is a British private investigator).

The movie, made in France in 2004, recounts a large part of Arsène's life, starting with his childhood - the time when his father supposedly died - and keeping on going until his possible death decades later.

It shows a character with a lot of different sides. There's the charmer Arsène who can even flatter the women he's stealing from, there's the fighter Arsène who has learned a very special type of fighting from his father, there's a haunted man who still wants to find out what really happened to his father. But Arsène is only one of a host of interesting characters. There's the love of his life, his cousin Clarisse. There's the mysterious Josephine who has lived for over a hundred years already. There's a conspiracy going on, it's members looking for the same three crosses Josephine wants - and Arsène steals for her and from her.

As always in French (or other European) movies, the characters aren't the run-off-the-mill pretty faces from Hollywood. They really are characters. They are recognizable (which is important, because the movie spans a time of more than 40 years).

And the story itself has a lot of twists and turns, bringing in unexpected things every now and then. I like that in a movie, because it's boring if you know what's going to happen after a couple of minutes.

And visually the movie is just great. The story is set in the late 19th and early 20th century and everything looks as if the crew took a time trip backwards. They actually were allowed to spread out tons of earth in front of the opera house in Paris, so that one huge street scene looked realistic. They had a genuine train from that time in order to film a large sequence set in a train. The same care and accuracy is to be found in the costumes and other things. It all looks real, although it isn't. Just as in the movie "Vidoq" (which, as I have pointed out before, is mentioned on the back of the package), "Arsène Lupin" is great.

I don't want to spoil much about the story here, but I will tell you that it features a lot of action as well as romance, suspense and a little bit of supernatural content.

So my tip, if you want it, is to try to find the movie somewhere and watch it. It's not Hollywood-made, but it's great.

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