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Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley, to investigate the murder on 32-year old professor and librarian Rémy Caillois, whose corpse was found 50 meters high on a steep mountain side, naked, horribly covered in bruises and bleeding wounds, the result of some five hours of bestial torture including quasi-surgical amputation of hands cauterized to prevent bleeding to death- and eyes. Guernon is a closed society of virtually incestuous scientists, de facto succeeding to their parents' posts; the eye-doctor, formerly on the staff, says hereditary genetic diseases are the price of such elitism, but in recent years spread to the simple farming families. Inspector Max Kerkerian examines two crimes in the town: a school break-in with theft of old photos and archive papers as well as a graveyard desecration of Judith Herault, the daughter of local nun Andrée, who lives in a dark cell since 15 ... Written by
I especially like the dialogue between the two detectives
The isolated University of Guernon specializes in the study of eugenics through which the researchers hope to produce academics of the highest calibre. Chief Inspector Niemans (Jean Reno) is called from Paris to investigate an horrific murder involving torture of the University's research librarian(close your eyes if mutilated bodies offend you)...At the same time a local police officer is looking into the desecration of a grave in the local cemetery. Some intriguing clues ( a bit far-fetched though)bring the two investigations together.
The two policeman have a strange relationship. The Chief from Paris is rather a loner who has his own ideas while the energetic local officer is kept at arm's length until he producers a clue of his own. The dialogue between these two keeps the film alive. The rest of the characters behave in suspicious ways of course but on the whole play minor roles.
Dissection of bodies and opening of grave sites are always gruesome and not every one's idea of entertainment. In this film they are important parts of the plot and certainly add to the atmosphere. It's strange when you come to think of it that police have to do so much of their work by torch light. But then the shadows are greatly enhanced and who knows what may jump out at them!
The police get very little help from the suspicious-looking University staff, a fact which surprises me considering their lives are possibly in danger.
For me the final scene when all is revealed is quite a let-down after a reasonably interesting investigation. The solving of the crime in this way seems just a little too convenient. The final avalanche was more exciting than the solving of the crime.
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