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During a ferocious dual against an unknown assailant wearing a glass mask, the famous detective Vidocq is vanquished and killed. The nineteenth century capitol of France, already tormented by revolution, weeps a considerable loss. Strange events had overcharged the investigator’s schedule not long before his death. It seems that the one known as the "alchemist" is behind a series of murders by lightning.

A journalist arrives in the region to try and retrace the late investigator’s actions before his death. Even though he first wanted to serve as his biographer, luck designates him as his successor. He tracks down the clues left behind and reconstructs his idol’s investigation.





Vidocq reminds me of Brotherhood of the Wolf on so many aspects. Both French films feature a combination of fantasy, intrigue, politics, martial arts, horror, a mystery killer and both take place in the past.

Vidocq flatters itself of being the first movie to be entirely filmed in digital format. The result is incontestable. Each time that a long scene bored me, it was on the sublime superimposed backgrounds on which I focused my attention. The panoramic scenes are fluid and the camera angles are audacious while always appropriate.

The development uses a brilliant structure. Because the journalist, our hero, goes everywhere Vidocq had previously investigated, both times are marvellously combined thanks to a realisation that I qualify as pure genius. When the journalist manipulates objects that brought Vidocq deeper into his search, we are brought back a few days in the past and witness a narrative sequence.

The theories behind the sudden deaths and other mysteries are unrealistic but everything is fine this way. Back then, alchemy had a mystical connotation because scientists were the only ones who understood matter. This film joins occult and physics in a manner that will confound even the most learned public.

Some combats, turn of situations and curious characters also have their part in this film. Sadly, the implication of too many characters renders the intrigue unstable. They come and pass without warning and none of them are developed. We are invited to resolve an enigma much too vague for us without any useful clues. On the other hand, the final revelation doesn’t make use, for once, of the usual monologue because the culprit’s motive is progressively explained, in an agile manner.

Final Thoughts

Memorables aspects
- A dual between Vidocq and the alchemist.
- The murders by lighting.

Memorables characters
- Vidocq (Gérard Depardieu)
- The alchemist

Released in: 2001

Movie type: Horror - Gothism - Thriller - Martial Arts - Fantasy - Historical

Films in similar category:
From Hell
Others, The
Halloween III: Season of the Witch

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( 2002-08-24 )  

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