Film of the Day - The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec


Louise Bourgoin in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

Louise Bourgoin in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

31 May

 

Ramesses II becomes pharaoh of Egypt, 1279BC

On this day in 1279BC, the king often called Ramesses (or Rameses, or Ramses) the Great, became pharaoh of Egypt. Known as Ozymandias by the Greeks, the pharaoh most remembered by history was a great military campaigner and a great builder of cities, temples and monuments. He became pharaoh in his late teens and ruled for the following 66 years. The Egyptian army consisted of about 100,000 men, and he used it to wage war against the Hittites and Nubians, routed the Sherden sea pirates who were harrying ships on the Mediterranean coast, thrust into modern-day Syria and Lybia. At home he undid many of the religious reforms of the Amarna period, returning Egypt to polytheism. After 30 years of rule, Ramesses himself became a god. He moved the capital of Egypt to a new city, Pi-Ramesses. He had many memorials to previous emperors remodelled to look like himself. He built Abu Simbel, the temples carved out of the mountainside, and the temple now called the Ramesseum, designed to keep the memory of Ramesses alive after his death, the “temple of a million years”, as well as a glorious tomb to the most important of his consorts, Nefertari. He died, in his 90s, possibly of an infection caused by a dental abscess, and was succeeded by his 13th son. His mummified body can now be seen in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

 

 

 

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010, dir: Luc Besson)

Though Luc Besson started out as a director (early films include Subway and Nikita), in recent years he’s been so occupied with the production side of things that he’s not got behind the camera so much. He made an exception for this adaptation of one of Jacques Tardi’s comic books – big in France, ignored most every other place – about a kind of female Indiana Jones, daring, drily witty and so proud of bearing that almost all who encounter her bend to her will. Louise Bourgoin plays journalist and adventurer Blanc-Sec (Dry White, in French) and is charming, pretty and haughty enough to carry off the role (think young Mary Poppins rather than Edwardian Lara Croft). It’s a knotty, tangly plot, with Adèle on a “this time it’s personal” mission to save her comatose sister, aided by resuscitated Egyptian mummies, an old gent who knows how to waken the deeply somnolent and a pterodactyl swooping around Paris terrorising people. There isn’t a non-eccentric character in it, there is a lot of running around, it’s all shot with deep chocolate-box filtration and there’s a clever mix of physical, stop motion and true CG effects. It’s Jules Verne steampunk meets the whimsy of Amélie and Besson clearly wants it to work. So why have most people not heard of this charming, exciting, fun film? Maybe some of the swoops from inventive to kitsch are a bit maddening, and certainly the stabs at humour are, for the most part, utterly unfunny (seen one pterodactyl crapping on the head joke, seen em all). Or maybe for most people this just isn’t what you’d associate with a “French film” – where’s the long talky stuff, the gamine girls, the nudity? But, come on, you’ve got to admire a movie with this much drive and plot, and with a breakout performance that singles Bourgoin out as a talent to watch. It’s a better, more intelligent, more coherent film than Spielberg’s Tintin, which it superficially resembles. But will we ever see the last two legs of the trilogy which was originally intended? It seems not. Never mind, we’ll always have Paris (menaced by a flying dinosaur).

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • A great piece of entertaining adventure
  • Louise Bourgoin’s starmaking performance
  • Matthieu Amalric, almost unrecognisable beneath the prosthetics
  • The extraordinary production design by Hugues Tissandier

 

© Steve Morrissey 2014

 

 

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec – at Amazon

 

 

 

 

imdb poster The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)
Run time: 107 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Director: Luc Besson
Writers: Luc Besson, Jacques Tardi
Stars: Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche
Trivia: An adventure set in the early part of the 20th century and focused on a popular novelist and her dealings with would-be suitors, the cops, monsters, and other distractions.
Storyline Desperate to cure her near catatonic sister, intrepid authoress Adèle Blanc-Sec braves ancient Egyptian tombs and modern Egyptian lowlife to locate a mummified doctor and get him back to Paris. Her hope is that oddball Professor Espérandieu will then use his unusual powers to bring the doctor back to life so he, in turn, can use his centuries-old skills on the unfortunate sister. In Paris however Espérandieu is already causing mayhem, having brought to life what was a safe museum egg but is now a very active pterodactyl. Paris 1911 may not be the healthiest place to be. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}
Plot Keywords: pterodactyl, tomb, monster, based on graphic novel, surrealism
Box Office Budget: €25,000,000 (estimated)