Based on the real life of Dr. Marcel Petiot: During world war II Petiot, an MD living in occupied Paris, promised to help wealthy Jewish people among his patients to flee occupied France ... See full summary »
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Based on the real life of Dr. Marcel Petiot: During world war II Petiot, an MD living in occupied Paris, promised to help wealthy Jewish people among his patients to flee occupied France for Spain. Instead, he drugged them and burnt their bodies in his home, while stealing their valuables. After the Liberation of France, he was condemned to death. Written by
When I was a child,I often heard my parents talk about the sinister docteur Petiot.It was widely talked about ,and this docteur Petiot,whom I knew through the tales my folks used to tell in the evening,was some kind of fairytale ogre.I must say I never scared my own children with those horrible stories of my childhood.
It took half a century to be brought to the screen.Christian de Challonges,who had already tackled fantasy successfully -"l'alliance"(1970),which remains unfairly overlooked today- and much less so with the overrated "malevil"(1980)which already featured MIchel Serrault.
But,I hear you say ,docteur Petiot is a true story and you are talking about fantasy genre.Simply because Challonges 's treatment is close to fantasy ,nay horror movie.It' s no coincidence if the movie in the movie which opens the work recalls Murnau and his Nosferatu.The settings,the make-ups -Serrault himself is sometimes unrecognizable-,the huge mansion where the killer keeps his loot,which he steals from the Jews he does away with,after promising them a "better world" ,which is not a lie after all,are strongly influenced by German expressionism ,not a bad choice.A recurrent picture is particularly stunning:Petiot riding his bike,his black cloak flowing in the dark,looks like a vampire .In a nutshell,"docteur¨Petiot" is a gruesome farce ,because a very black humor is always present:the news film ,in the movie theater ,speaks about Petiot as the biggest killer of the 20th century,and however,there were people who were working on a much larger scale at the time.
That said,the scenes do not always hang well together as the script is not always satisfying,but this is minor quibble:"docteur Petiot" is a movie I recommend along with contemporary Claude Chabrol's "une affaire de femmes" ,which,although more conventional ,is another good example of war profiteers.What's fascinating is that the two heroes (Serrault as Petiot and Huppert as a backstreet abortionist-do believe they are completely innocent and that they helped people all in all.Both were guillotined.
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