Of all the Luc Besson films I see on popular lists around forums, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec never seems to be on any of them. Either because they genuinely hate it or most likely that they’ve never heard of it. It was released in 2010 and needed stealthy audiences to find it as I’ve only seen the film myself about a year ago. I’ve since watched it three times and found it as charming as ever with it’s mixture of Indiana Jones, Tintin and The Mummy. Not to mention it’s adorable lead played by Louise Bourgoin who sanctified the character for me.
The film is based on a French comicbook series of the same name by Jacques Tardi and first released in 1976. It’s the collision of two of the seven works released so far, set in something of Luc Besson’s making. The character of Adèle is a journalist and famous writer who lives in France at the turn of the twentieth century and finds herself embroiled in a good number of absurd plots. It’s a historical fantasy known as Gaslamp, meaning the setting is Edwardian or Victorian if those had deep supernatural roots, and takes a lot of its cues from Gothic literature. No, it’s not Steampunk as that has a foundation that tries to establish some mad-science.
So what’s the film about exactly? Well, we open with Professor Espérandieu who resembles a mummy in age attempting a telepathic hijack of a Pterodactyl egg that he helped hatch. He loses control over it only for it to terrorize all of Paris. Meanwhile Adèle is off in Egypt looking for the personal doctor of an Egyptian King who could revive her sister, who’s in a vegetative state due to a hairpin poking through her brain. She’s been like that for five years and none of the other methods have worked. If it’s removed she dies. The mummy of course can only be resurrected by our professor who is now set to be guillotined because his bond to the winged-beast has been discovered (the last guillotine in France was in 1977 by the way). There is another villain in this mix, Professor Dieuleveult, who resembles Major Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember? The guy who has the medallion burnt into his hand. I’m not really sure who came out first or if the character even occurs in the comic, but they do look the same.
The character of the comicbook is a bit frumpier and far more sarcastic, but the latter comes out in Bourgoin nevertheless. Patriotism is a major theme called into question in the series but is wholly absent in the films. They needed to softball that by ignoring it. The police are lampooned and mostly corrupt. Again, they’re Keystone Cops who are confident that their idiocy is right. Their Capt. is always attempting to eat but is interrupted by something. There is plenty of slapstick humor and it might be a bit too much for some people’s hearts as they also consider Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to be the funny one. A belief that is ridiculous. The special effects are uneven but hold-up. In any case I didn’t consider them a distraction when they didn’t. There are things which one just lets slide when they are enjoying a film. And this is one of those times.
There are two different versions of this film and one of them contains a brief nude scene in a bathtub that had to be excised. It’s not a big deal unless all you watch film for is the discovery of even the most minute of masturbatory material. In which case you probably have problems. Look on elsewhere, the net can fill your quotient as not every film has to.
All-in-all I can say I’d wish they would continue with this series but it doesn’t look likely. It cost close to thirty million dollars to make and didn’t do well the first time around. How unfortunate as we won’t get a more detailed world or exploration into secret societies and Lovecraftian menaces.
Teaser 2 is the more evocative one, but the full trailer is below that. It’s not subbed but those versions exist. These are just posted for you to see what you’re getting into. A nice warm bath.