The character AdÃ¨le Blanc-Sec first appeared in a series of comic books in the 1970s, written and illustrated by the French artist Jacques Tardi. In 2010, she was brought to the screen in The Extraordinary Adventures of AdÃ¨le Blanc-Sec, written and directed by Luc Besson, the man responsible for Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element.
The film has been described as a cross between Amelie and Indiana Jones. And while this may be a lazy description, it’s also fairly accurate. The opening sequence is reminiscent of Amelie, as a not-dissimilar voiceover describes the background to the events we are about to see unfold. Traces of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s smash hit movie can also be found in the somewhat grotesque supporting characters, including an absurdly overblown big-game hunter and a cadaverous ancient scientist.
The Indiana Jones influence appears in the character of AdÃ¨le herself, an adventurer and author, writing novels based on her fantastic experiences in the early part of the twentieth century “ probably 30 years before Indy’s time. Early in the movie, we see AdÃ¨le sneaking off to Egypt (she is being paid to go to Peru) in order to find a mummy. She wants to take the mummy back to France where the aforementioned cadaverous scientist, who has discovered a way to bring the dead back to life can re-animate the mummy so said mummy (supposedly the physician to Rameses II) can cure her sister who has been in a coma for years after stabbing herself through the head with a hatpin during a game of tennis that got out of hand (do try to keep up). But unfortunately, while she is away, her said cadaverous scientist brought to life a pterodactyl that is now terrorising Paris and AdÃ¨le is going to have to deal with that.
So, as you may have guessed, the realism of the plot isn’t one of the film’s strong points. But the character of AdÃ¨le definitely is. Nicely played by Louise Bourgoin, she’s a strong three dimensional character; feisty, impatient, a bit spoiled and grief stricken over her sister. There’s a lovely scene early on, when she manages to get into the mummy’s tomb only for some villains to point their guns at her and tell her to get out so that they can take it from there. Moments later they call her back, having realised that actually, they’re not really sure what to do next and would she mind helping out please? Needless to say, they meet a sticky end while she escapes with the loot.
The Extraordinary Adventures of AdÃ¨le Blanc-Sec will not go down as a modern classic. It’s pretty silly, but it’s also a lot of fun, with some nice set piece and some funny moments. It’s also refreshing that there’s no tacked on love interest. Well, there is a young man who’s infatuated with AdÃ¨le, but it’s clear to all concerned that she’s far too much for him to handle.