Luc And Learn

Four of French innovator Besson's finest pre-Hollywood offerings

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Either lionised as a visual stylist or derided as a European Tony Scott, Luc Besson nonetheless transformed French film in the ’80s. His rejection of pseudo-intellectualism and poetic realism is evident in these four offerings, Le Dernier Combat (1983), Subway (1985), La Femme Nikita (1990) and Atlantis (1991). Le Dernier Combat, his debut, is a tragi-comic trawl through a post-apocalyptic dystopia with hero Pierre Jolivet. Viewing it next to Subway and Nikita reveals just how vigorously Besson self-cannibalises, set design, plot points and outfits passing freely from film to film. Otherwise, Subway’s genre subversions almost tip the baby out with the noir bathwater, while Nikita is the grandmother of all PVC fembot dramas. Sadly, Atlantis, a maudlin underwater travelogue, is simply a dud.

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