The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

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The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

Fifty years ago, Claude Sautet’s extraordinary crime was presented. It was made from Claude Néron’s novel of the same title Satanic idea he twists not only the sub-genres of French cop films (so-called policier) but also heist films depicting the history of robberies: his protagonist is an obsessed policeman who tries to persuade a pitiful gang to rob a bank for a successful arrest.

By the early 1970s, criminal filmmakers held the view that the disillusionment of a metropolitan, lonely, and intricate (but at least stubbornly “detached”) police detective in its unusual and often offensive methods was a reflection of the general value crisis of law enforcement.

If we look only at Hollywood, fifty years ago cinema screens like Frank Bullitt (A cop from San Francisco, 1968), Daniel Madigan (Madigan, 1968),  Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (French connection, 1971), Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry, 1971) or Frank Serpico (Serpico, 1973). The French crime story, which is partly nourished by American traditions (more precisely from film noir), in policier, the cop’s (resulting from his intransigence) exclusion and voluntary exclusion appeared much earlier — yet, the grim and aloof hero of Claude Sautet’s 1971 film is more than just a special case compared to his “contemporary” American counterparts.

Satanic Idea (Michel Piccoli)Source: Netflix

A Satanic idea his detective, Max (Michel Piccoli) is obsessed not only with the truth, but with the result, with success. An educated, sophisticated, and wealthy man who chose the judge’s robe to condemn those who deserved it, and who gave up his legal career because he had to bail out a criminal whose conviction he was convinced for in the absence of evidence — so he stood a police officer, only he always arrives late at the scene of a series of bank robberies in Paris, his informant cheats, he is at a constant disadvantage against the robbers.

Fired by the collusion of his colleagues, and thanks to a chance encounter, he comes up with the idea of ​​producing the crime he will solve: by tricking him into his former comrade and his pythian, mostly iron-fired gang of Nanterre (a suburb of Paris) out of a bank, and he can finally arrive the unsuspecting suckers on time.

The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

Satanic ideaSource: Netflix

A Satanic idea thus, he not only changed the “run-in” formula of detective films, focusing not on the determined investigation of the outside police officer, but on the implementation of the results-oriented plan of a “dedicated” detective suffering from continuous failure, but on the sub-genre of robbery stories. he also brought a new color to heist films by saying that, from the protagonist’s point of view, the success of the crime he planned this time did not lie in the acquisition of loot and the lucky escape, but on the contrary: in the fall.

Max could no longer be excited about the money, a member of a wealthy wine-trading family, and accordingly – and enjoying the trust and respect of his superior – he doesn’t even have to bother with cost requests and reports to fund the execution of his plan. Renting herself as a bank owner, she rents a luxury apartment and spends fortune on the services of one of the gang members (former comrades) prostitute girlfriend (Romy Schneider) limited to chat and card games, trusting that Lily would sooner or later share the information she received with her partner. However, she doesn’t expect to be mutually in love with the German-born joy girl — and the emotions legally lead to a tragic ending, which at the same time results in Max winning Lily and, of course, the viewer’s (if not moral, but emotional) release.

The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

Satanic Idea (Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli)Source: Netflix

A Satanic ideain Sautet skillfully mixes the emotional tension of love drama into the excitement of crime, but it is only one means of overwriting the commonplace plot and lessons of ordinary crime stories with his film. Considered nouveau naturel, the leading figure in the French cinematic trend known as the New Naturalism, Sautet’s almost complete oeuvre is based on the simple but noble intent of depicts: in intimate and well-developed situations, illustrating that members of the bourgeois middle class also struggle with average problems.

A Satanic idea In the case of a wealthy, once respected judge, the average problem that triggers an act is job failure, which he seeks to remedy with a step that calls his moral clairvoyance and then falls in love with the street girl used as a tool. it sensitively depicts the most common problem of love aging: acceptance.

The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

Satanic Idea (Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli)Source: Netflix

Claude Sautet’s film, however, ignores the direct overtones of social criticism, as it does not focus on moral dilemmas, instead of mouth-watering scenes, it wisely leaves the conclusion to the viewer: Max’s concern about the moral decline of middle citizenship.

After all, the Satanic idealike the robbers who stumbled, the pandur who cheats them into a dagger doesn’t seem really professional (more precisely, it’s only in the manipulation), but the difference doesn’t even lie in which side of the law they stand on. It would be an exaggeration to say, of course, that Sautet’s film would be a kind of social allegory in which a modest big citizen exploits the petty bourgeoisie in order to prove his own moral superiority, which is manifested only in the fact that he has a purpose in life unlike the Pitian villains. Still, the Satanic idea Applying the Machiavellian principle of “the goal sanctifies the means”, his investigator assumes that law enforcement cannot be successful on moral grounds and, without any moral concern, boldly transgresses the legal and moral rules of law enforcement, in fact successfully proving that properly selected people do. they can be persuaded into a serious sin, just by skillfully shaping the circumstances.

The policeman, the prostitute and the juvenile offenders

Satanic ideaSource: Netflix

His cool rationalism is eventually washed away by his suddenly flare-up emotions – on the one hand he becomes a criminal himself, on the other hand he just saves someone by his unexpected fall, his fall is also a sacrifice, so he becomes a victim. Satanic idea into a parable of predictable and unpredictable sin.

Moreover, the pastel-colored but grainy-roughly photographed (cinematographer: René Mathelin) crime story really seems to be just an alibi, but not a tale of reversible morals, but a subtly executed love tragedy in which only one party’s “banker” counts at first. and the other is a street girl, because in the spirit of new naturalness, with tiny moments falling from real life, with gazes that say more than words, Sautet adapts the romance of Michel Piccoli and Romy Schneider very much to the everyday life of the average person. On second thought, a Satanic idea ultimately, the story of a man who realizes too late that what is missing from his life is not professional success or moral victory, but the purity of emotions that burns all depravity.

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