THE CRIMSON RIVERS
Gaumont Films / Legendre Entreprises 2000
PIERRE NIEMANS: JEAN RENO
Veteran French policeman (Le Flic) who is so famous that he never uses his ID to identify himself: people just KNOW who he is and what trouble to expect. He needs a new cigarette lighter. Scared of dogs, gets shot at, threatened and later gets buried under an avalanche but survives.
MAX KERKERIAN: VINCENT CASSEL
Dope smoker, rebel to authority, street fighter, wise ass, car jacker but still a damn good cop. Cannot pick a lock to save his life: I could pick my nose better. Shot at, has his nose broken (for real), falls out of a moving car and gets buried by an avalanche but survives.FANNY FERREIRA: NADIA FARES.
Mountain climber, glaciologist and person with a dark secret. Shot and buried by an avalanche but survives.DR BERNARD CHERNEZE: JEAN-PIERRE CASSEL.
Another person (an optician) with a dark secret ~ is dismembered and has his eyes torn out, so now his secret is so dark, he can’t even see it. Thus he can never entertain us with a chorus of I Can See Clearly Now
.THE DEAN: DIDIER FLAMAND
Slimy, oily, evil, friendly and urbane gentleman, the guy in charge of the university and also the town of Guernon. Gets his ass handed to him by Pierre Niemans in a library of all places.CAPTAIN DAHAMME: KARIM BELKADHRA
Snotty, wary of outsiders French cop in the town of Guernon: confused by everything that’s happening in the movie and he’s not the only one. Cannot pronounce Bill Gates’ surname correctly.SISTER ANDREE: DOMINIQUE SANDA.
The creepiest nun I have ever seen since the faceless nun in Antonia Fraser’s Quiet As A Nun
. Blind, insane and very, very scary.LESSONS LEARNED
Always check a cop’s pistol before you threaten him with it: it might just be unloaded.
Crevasses can also be called time machines.
Trevor’s daily to do list and recipe for would be serial killers: Always keep a stock of Tupperware boxes and jars around to keep your body parts in and to keep them fresh, of course. Pots can be used to store your collection of chopped off hands and please remember to keep a Stanley knife handy for those pesky bones.
You can cock a shotgun many times before actually firing it: it will never jam.
Tombstones reflect the life of a person and sometimes film camera crews too.
Some French universities have the grave of their founder in their grounds.
Always smash a car window open instead of just rolling it down.
Always spit in a keyhole before you attempt to pick the lock.
Cops in France exist on cigarettes and coffee 24/7. No one ever eats in this film!
Opticians always live in creepy houses on stilts and keep human heads around as table ornaments.
Never give your blind child one of those killer dogs from The Boys From Brazil
as a guide dog.
Leaving a crime victim's apartment will always change your hairstyle.
Never trust a thesis if its' title is in Latin.STUFF TO WATCH FOR
1 min: What is that thing that the camera’s panning over?
2 min: OMG: now I see what the camera was panning over!
5 min 00: Would someone please get this guy a lighter? Preferably one that works.
5 min 40: Yes, I’d also like to know what’s going on, Jean.
7 min 37: Yikes: Is that a grave in the university’s grounds?
7 min 50: Strange, this is a French film and he said that line in English.
7 min 50: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!
11 min 10: Whoa, hang on: is that corpse crying?
17 min 10: That’s right, arrest that layabout pot smoker!
18 min 35: Ermmm…that pot smoker is a cop!
28 min 05: Hold it: are those swastikas on the floor tiles? Something wrong here…..
42 min 00: That is a very frightening image: a blind, insane nun.
1 hr 04: I don't think you can buy that ornament at Wallmart!
1 hr 05: That image is my childhood nightmare: the old faceless one in the dark!
1 hr 09: Whoa! Get the censors! Did Jean Reno just say merde
1 hr 14: I always wondered if there were other words for grave desecration but “fun stuff” ain’t them.
1 hr 16: What the hell is that cement mixer doing there?
1 hr 17: There’s a roaring fire in the house and he’s still messing around with that damn lighter.
1 hr 21: That’s the way to question your suspects, Jean: throttle them!
1 hr 26: These French cops: always stealing cars and kicking in doors.
1 hr 28: Well, let’s give the man a hand for finding those!!
1 hr 29: Oh, EYE SEE what this film is about now.
1 hr 34: Don’t fire those weapons, there could be an avalanche…..oops, too late.
1 hr 36: The irony of it: the one thing that Niemans is afraid of rescues him and the others.NOTABLE QUOTES
Questions, so many questions……..
Niemans: “What is going on?’
Captain Dahamane: “Explain yourself, Niemans: what’s happening?”
Max: “I don’t understand, what is going on?”
The Dean: “You suspect us, don’t you?”
Dr Cherneze: "How can I help you?"
Niemans: "How long did it take him to die?"
Max:"Shoot who? Who?"
Fanny: “Is it a serial killer?”
Captain Dahamane: “Why did they only send you? Paris said they’d send a unit.”
Fanny: “Can you tell me what is happening?”
Captain Dahamane: "Who let you through?"
Max: “Hey, Niemans! Would it kill you to tell me what is going on?”
Dr Cherneze: “How does this involve me?”
The cemetery groundsman: “They desecrated that tomb. Why?”
The AutoRoute Man: “What is this mess?”
The Coroner: “I can’t explain it.”
Captain Dahamane: “What the f___ is this s___?”Trevor: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”THE PLOT
Based on the book Les Rivieres Pourpres
by renowned French journalist and novelist Jean-Christophe Grange, this icy, chilling, terrifying film adaptation by Mathieu Kassovitz, the famed and controversial director of La Haine
, is one of the few films that has frightened, puzzled, enthralled and entertained me at the same time. The basic story of this and the book is that a murder is committed in the small, thankfully fictitious university town of Guernon in the French Alps.
France’s foremost criminal profiler, Pierre Niemans (in the book, a homicidal, tortured individual who beats a suspect almost to the point of killing him and is then only stopped from doing so by his cell phone ringing) is sent to investigate the murder and finds that the corpse has been treated very decently by his killers: e.g. his hands have been chopped off and his eyes torn out, all of this done while he was still alive.
Niemans, depicted in the film as a world weary, seen-it-all-don't-want-to-see-anymore policeman and played marvelously by Jean Reno, investigates further, finding more mutilated bodies, all with a seeming link to the Guernon University, a marvelous place where all the students have their respective heads up their asses and the founder’s grave is in the University’s garden. I should add that almost everyone in the town has their heads up their rear ends, by the way.
Another policeman, Max Kerkerian, is investigating a desecration of a tomb in a cemetery 200 miles away and a seemingly unlinked robbery at the local primary school. Max’s investigations lead him to interrogate and kick the hell plus some brown stuff out of some innocent skinheads and finally to an agonizingly scary interview with an insane, blind nun. He later winds up in Guernon and links up with Niemans, the two of them forming an at first shaky and then commanding alliance against the immense evil in the town and university.
After nearly killing each other in front of a suspect's door, the alliance grows ever stronger between the young volatile cop and the older, crime-weary cop: the immense evil discovered is that the town and university are practicing Nazi inspired eugenics in attempting to create a master race of mens sana incorpore sana
students and that a faceless killer is eliminating the chief perpetrators and their offspring one by one.
After making the brilliant and very controversial La Haine
, director Mathieu Kassovitz teamed up with the renowned French author Jean-Christophe Grange and the French actors Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel to make this well received adaptation of the novel Les Rivieres Pourpres
, which roughly translates as "Blood Red Rivers". The original book was a terrifying masterpiece, even in its' English translation, which depicts its' main characters as being almost as insane as its' killer.
There are some major departures from the book, e.g. the Pierre Niemans character in Grange's book is a homicidal maniac with a badge while in the film, Jean Reno depicts him as a world weary police veteran who has seen too much evil. The Max character in the book is a dreadlocked Moroccan immigrant called Karim Abdouf who forms an alliance with his boss, having never had someone to look up to before and Vincent Cassel plays this part well. The film ends on a happy note, unlike the book which does not.
The cinematography by Thierry Arbogast (of Leon
fame) and the creepy music by Bruno Coulais is stunning: the icy visuals and eerie music (and unexpected humor) add to a great viewing experience.
Just one warning: do not eat
during the opening two minutes of the film. I did and I regretted it.