Vidocq 2001 Movie Scene The Alchemist wearing a golden reflective mask and a black cape

Vidocq [2001]

Featuring a distinctive visual style, Vidocq is a strange mixture of horror, thriller, and fantasy all wrapped up into one compelling narrative. To be more precise, Vidocq is actually a who-done-it movie full of mystery and suspense. We will be following a young journalist Étienne Boisse as he tries to get to the bottom of Vidocq’s untimely death. This prominent Parisian private investigator ended up in a furnace after an encounter with a seemingly supernatural enemy. Now, if all of this sounds a bit strange, things are about to get even stranger.

Eugène François Vidocq was a real criminal, cop, writer and the world’s first private detective. He’s widely considered to be the father of modern criminology and of the French police department. The movie we’re going to be talking about today, Vidocq, is not based on true events. Something that will become quite apparent towards the end of the movie. The story is oddly compelling with a healthy dose of realism in certain aspects. I was hooked from minute one and anxious to find out what the fuck is going on here.

Mostly because as the story progresses, it gets wilder and wilder. You have sex, murder, conspiracies, alchemy, crazy twists, and an insanely striking visual style. What more to want from a movie? In the best tradition of French cinema, the combination of extreme close-ups and regular shots creates this vibrant and immersive atmosphere. An atmosphere that just pulls you in and basically hypnotizes you. And the characters are just so intriguing. The killer, wearing a strange golden mirror-like mask is perhaps the most memorable out of them all.

Vidocq finally catches up to the masked killer in the furnace room. He’s been after him for some time now, after a man wearing a golden mirror mask. The killer manages to push Vidocq into the firepit but with his last breath, he asks for one, last wish, to see his face. So, the killer agrees and removes the mask with the only man who knows who he is dying shortly after that. After a while, a young journalist decides to follow in Vidocq’s footsteps and find out who his killer is. And perhaps also avenge his death.

Ahh, the early aughts produced some of my favorite horror movies. I remember first watching trailers for Vidocq on television for weeks on end before finally catching it one night. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. So, I just added it to the list of similar French movies like Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre and Brotherhood of the Wolf. If you’re looking for more of this sweet, sweet cinematography, I recommend Alien: Resurrection and The City of Lost Children. And Dark City, we shouldn’t forget about Dark City.

The special effects stood the test of time and still look excellent. Along with action sequences, and there will be a hefty amount of them. The fights feel exciting and creative, like something you have never seen before. They prove that you could have a bit bulkier lead kicking ass left and right. Also, the soundtrack is pretty tight, culminating in Apocalyptica’s Hope Vol. 2. This is the video featuring clips from the movie. 

Finally, I should mention that there’s a new movie about Vidocq and his adventures. It’s not as sleek as this one but The Emperor of Paris, starring Vincent Cassel is definitely worth watching. More of a stylish historical drama with a lot of mystery, it follows Vidocq as he starts paying his debts to the French people by catching criminals.

Director: Pitof

Writers: Eugène-François Vidocq, Pitof, Jean-Christophe Grangé

Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Guillaume Canet, Inés Sastre, André Dussollier, Moussa Maaskri

Fun Facts: First movie shot with the new Sony digital 1080p 24 fps cameras. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones also used the same cameras but it came out a year later.


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