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Besson, Luc 1959-

Besson, Luc 1959-

PERSONAL

Born March 18, 1959, in Paris, France; father and mother both scuba diving instructors; married Anne Parillaud (an actress; divorced); married Milla Jovovich (an actress, model, and recording artist), December 14, 1997 (divorced, 1999); married Virginie Silla (a producer), August 28, 2004; children: (first marriage) Juliette, (third marriage) Talia, Satine, Mao; (with Maiwenn Le Besco) Shanna.

Addresses:

Office—Seaside Productions, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles, CA 90069; EuropaCorp., 137 Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honore, Paris 75008 France.

Career:

Director, producer, and writer. Les Film du Loup (production company), founder; Seaside Productions, Los Angeles, CA, principal; EuropaCorp., Paris, France, chief executive officer; directed television commercials for DIM underwear, 1984, L'Oreal cosmetics, 1997, Estee Lauder, 2003, and Chanel perfume; served as Jury President at the Cannes Film Festival, 2000.

Awards, Honors:

Caixa de Catalunya As, best director and best film, Catalonian International Film Festival, Critic's Prize Award, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, best film and best director, International Fantasy Film Awards, Audience Jury Award—Special Mention, Fantasporto, and Cesar Award nomination, best new director of a feature film, Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema, 1984, all for Le dernier combat; Film Award nomination (with Francois Ruggieri), best foreign language film, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cesar Award nomination, best director, both 1986, and International Fantasy Film Award nomination, best film, Fantasporto, 1987, for Subway; Cesar Award nominations, best director and best film, 1989, both for The Big Blue; Mystfest Award nomination, best film, 1990, Cesar Award nominations, best director and best film, Silver Ribbon Award, best director—foreign film, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1991, all for Nikita; Cesar Award nominations, best director and best film, both 1995, and Czech Lion Award, best foreign language film, 1996, for Leon; Lumiere Award, best director, 1997, Cesar Award nomination, best film, and Cesar Award, best director, both 1998, for The Fifth Element; Film Award, best British film, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1998, for Nil by Mouth; Lumiere Awards, best director and best film, 1999, and Cesar Award nomination, best director, 2000, for The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc; Grand Prix Special des Ameriques, for special contributions to the art of cinematography, Montreal World Film Festival, 2002; Bronze Wrangler (with others), outstanding theatrical motion picture, Western Heritage Awards, Independent Spirit Award nomination (with others), best feature, 2006, Independent Features Project West, both for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

CREDITS

Film Work:

Second assistant director, Deux lions au soleil (also known as Two Lions in the Sun), Gaumont, 1980.

Assistant director and casting director, Les bidasses aux grandes manoeuvres, Les Films Jacques Leitienne, 1981.

Director and producer, L'avant dernier, 1981.

Director and producer, Le dernier combat (also known as The Final Combat, The Last Combat, and The Last Battle), Les Films du Loup, 1982.

Second equipment director, Le grand carnaval (also known as The Big Carnaval), Alexandre Films, 1983.

Producer, Ne quittez pas, 1984.

Director and producer, Subway, Gaumont, 1984.

Producer, Kamikaze, 1986.

Technical advisor, Taxi Boy, President Films, 1986.

Director and camera operator: underwater unit, and (uncredited) coproducer, The Big Blue (also known as Le grand bleu, Le grand bleu, version integrale, and Le grand bleu, version longue), Columbia, 1988.

Director and (uncredited) coproducer, Nikita (also known as La femme nikita), Gaumont, 1990.

Director, coproducer, cinematographer, and editor, Atlantis (also known as Atlantis—Le creature del mare), Milestone, 1991.

Producer, Lune froide (also known as Cold Moon), Gaumount, 1991.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Chasse gardee, 1992.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Les Mamies, 1992.

(Uncredited) Co-executive producer, L'enfant lion (also known as Sirga), Lauren Films, 1993.

Director and (uncredited) coproducer, The Professional (also known as The Cleaner and Leon), Columbia, 1994.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Les truffles, 1995.

Director and camera operator, The Fifth Element (also known as Le cinquieme element), Sony Pictures, 1997.

Producer, Nil by Mouth (also known as Ne pas avaler), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1997.

Producer, Taxi, Fox Film, 1998.

Director and coproducer, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (also known as Jeanne d'Arc and Joan of Arc), Columbia, 1999.

Co-executive producer, Cour interdite, 1999.

Producer, Taxi 2, United International Pictures, 2000.

Producer, The Dancer, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2000.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Exit, ARP Selection, 2000.

Co-executive producer, The Truth about Charlie, Universal, 2001.

Producer, Yamakasi, New Films International, 2001.

Producer, 15 aout (also known as August 15th), Europa Distribution, 2001.

Producer, Kiss of the Dragon (also known as Le baiser mortel du dragon and KOD: Kiss of the Dragon), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.

Producer, Wasabi (also known as La petite moutarde qui monte au nez and Wasabi—The Japanese Dip That Kicks Like a Mule), TriStar, 2001.

Producer, La turbulence des fluides (also known as Chaos and Desire), Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm, 2002.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Peau d'ange (also known as Once Upon an Angel), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2002.

(Uncredited) Coproducer, Blanche, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2002.

Additional camera operator, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatre (also known as Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Kleopatra, and Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra), 2002.

Producer and camera operator: underwater unit, The Transporter (also known as Le transporter), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2002.

(Uncredited) Ong-bak (also known as Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, Daredevil, Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, and Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior), Magnolia Pictures, 2003.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Rire et chatiment (also known as Laughter and Punishment), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Producer, Taxi 3, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

(Uncredited) Coproducer, La felicita non costa niente (also known as Happiness Costs Nothing and La felicita, le bonheur ne coute rien), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Coproducer, Moi Cesar, 10 ans _ 1m39 (also known as I, Cesar), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Coproducer, Tristan, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Producer, Fanfan la tulipe, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Producer, Les cotelettes, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

(Uncredited) Coproducer, Haute tension (also known as Switchblade Romance), Lions Gate Films, 2003.

Coproducer, Cheeky, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

(Uncredited) Coproducer, Michel Vaillant, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Coproducer, Les rivieres pourpres II—Les anges de l'apocalypse (also known as Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse and I fiumi di porpora II—Gli angeli esll'apocalisse), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2004.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, A ton image, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2004.

(Uncredited) Coproducer, Mensonges et trahisons et plus si affinites (also known as Mensonges et trahisons and The Story of My Life), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2004.

Producer, Taxi (also known as New York Taxi and Taxi 2004), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2004.

Producer, Banlieue 13 (also known as 13th District, District 13, District B13, and B13-Banlieue 13), Magnolia Pictures, 2004.

Producer, Danny the Dog (also known as Unleashed), Rogue Pictures, 2005.

Coproducer, Ze film, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

Coproducer, Le souffleur, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Akoibon, Gemini Films, 2005.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Nordeste, TFM Distribution, 2005.

Producer, Imposture, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

Producer, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (also known as Three Burials: The Three Burials of Melquiades and Trois enterrements), Sony Pictures Classics, 2005.

(Uncredited) Associate producer and coproducer, Au suivant!, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

Producer, Le transporteur II (also known as Transporter 2), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2005.

Coproducer, Revolver, 2005.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Entre ses mains (also known as In His Hands), Pathe, 2005.

Executive producer, Colour Me Kubrick: A Trueish Story (also known as Appelez-moi Kubrick and Color Me Kubrick), Magnolia Pictures, 2005.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Bunker paradise, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

(Uncredited) Executive producer, La boite noire, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

Director and producer, Angel-A, Sony Pictures Classics, 2005.

Producer, Bandidas, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Les filles du botaniste (also known as The Chinese Botanist's Daughters), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2006.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Meutrieres, Pan Europeenne Distribution, 2006.

Executive producer, Quand j'etais chanteur (also known as The Singer), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2006.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Avril (also known as April in Love), Films Distribution, 2006.

(Uncredited) Executive producer, Dikkenek, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2006.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, La jungle, SND, 2006.

(Uncredited) Associate producer, Nuovomondo (also known as Golden Door and The Golden Door), Miramax, 2006.

Executive producer, Love and Other Disasters (also known as Love (et ses petits desastres)), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2006.

Executive producer, Ne le dis a personne (also known as Tell No One), Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2006.

Director and producer, Arthur et les Minimoys (animated; also known as Arthur and the Invisibles, Arthur and the Minimoys, and Arthur et les Minimoys), 2006.

Executive producer, Michou d'Auber, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2007.

Producer, Taxi 4 (also known as T4xi), 2007.

Coproducer, Frontiere(s) (also known as Frontier(s)), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2007.

Executive producer, L'invite, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2007.

Producer and executive producer, The Secret (also known as Si j'etais toi), 2007.

Producer, Hitman, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2007.

Coproducer, Staten Island, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2008.

Producer, Ruby Tuesday (animated), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2008.

Producer, Taken, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2008.

Producer, Home (documentary), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2008.

Executive producer, Un chateau en Espagne, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2008.

Producer and production executive, Come Like Shadows, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2008.

Film Appearances:

(Uncredited) Le monstre de la fin, L'avant dernier, 1981.

Ne quittez pas, 1984.

(Uncredited) The subway driver, Subway, 1985.

(Uncredited) Blonde diver, The Big Blue (also known as Le grand bleu, Le grand bleu, version integrale, and Le grand bleu, version longue), 1988.

(Uncredited) Boat owner, Taxi 2, United International Pictures, 2000.

Television Work; Series:

Producer, Valerian et Laureline, 2007.

Television Appearances; Specials:

L'aventure du Grand Bleu, 1989.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Deja dimanche, 1995.

The Charlie Rose Show, PBS, 1997.

"Luc Bresson," Bouillon de culture, 1999.

20 heures le journal, 2001.

On ne peut pas plaire a tout le monde (also known as O.N.P.P., ONPP vu de la loge, ONPP vu de la plage, ONPP vu du bocal, and ONPP vu du desert), 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

Comme au cinema (also known as Comme au cinema: l'emission and Comme au cinema: le magazine), 2003.

Le grand journal de Canal+, 2005.

L'Hebdo cinema, 2005, 2006.

Vivement dimanche, 2006.

On n'est pas couche, 2007.

RECORDINGS

Music Videos (as Director):

Isabelle Adjani's "Pull Marine," 1984.

"Mon legionnaire" 1988, De Serge Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre de 1958-1991, 1994.

Madonna's "Love Profusion," 2003.

Also directed Mylene Farmer's "My Soul is Slashed."

WRITINGS

Screenplays:

L'avant dernier, 1981.

Le dernier combat (also known as The Final Combat, The Last Combat, and The Last Battle), Les Films du Loup, 1982.

Subway, Island Pictures, 1985.

Kamikaze, 1986.

The Big Blue (also known as Le grand bleu, Le grand bleu, version integrale, and Le grand bleu, version longue), Columbia, 1988.

Nikita (also known as La Femme Nikita), Gaumont, 1990.

Point of No Return (also known as The Assassin and The Assassin—(Point of No Return)), Warner Bros., 1993.

The Professional (also known as The Cleaner and Leon), Columbia, 1994.

The Fifth Element (also known as Le cinquieme element), 1997.

Taxi, 1998.

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (also known as Jeanne d'Arc and Joan of Arc), Columbia, 1999.

Taxi 2, United International Pictures, 2000.

The Dancer, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2000.

Yamakasi (also known as Yamakasi—Les samourais des temps modernes), 2001.

Kiss of the Dragon (also known as Le baiser mortel du dragon and KOD: Kiss of the Dragon), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.

Wasabi (also known as Le petite moutards qui monte au nez and Wasabi—The Japanese Dip That Kicks Like a Mule), TriStar, 2001.

The Transporter (also known as Le transporteur), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2002.

Taxi 3, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Fanfan la tulipe, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Michel Vaillant, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2003.

Les rivieres pourpres II—Les anges de l'apocalypse (also known as Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse and I fiumi di porpora II—Gli angeli dell'apoclisse), EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2004.

Banlieue 13 (also known as 13th District, District 13, District B13, and B13-Banlieue 13), Magnolia Pictures, 2004.

Danny the Dog (also known as Unleashed), Rogue Pictures, 2005.

Revolver, EuropaCorp. Distribution, 2005.

Angel-A, Sony Pictures Classics, 2005.

Bandidas, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.

Arthur et les Minimoys (animated; also known as Arthur and the Invisibles, Arthur and the Minimoys, and Arthur et les Minimoys), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2006.

Taxi 4 (also known as T4xi), 2007.

Taken, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2008.

Television Episodes:

La Femme Nikita (also known as Nikita), USA Nikita, 1997.

Books:

The Story of "Fifth Element," Titan Books, 1997.

L'histoire de Subway, Intervista, 2000.

Taxi 2, Intervista, 2000.

Kiss of the Dragon/Le Baiser Mortel, Intervista, 2001.

Yamakasi, samourai des temps modernes, Intervista, 2001.

Arthur and the Forbidden City, HarperCollins, 2005.

Arthur and the Minimoys, HarperCollins, 2005.

Arthur and the Invisibles, Weinstein Company, 2006.

Also wrote Images from Joan of Arc; and a series of books that are part autobiography and part production history of his films.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.

Periodicals:

Premiere, November, 1996, pp. 18-23; 1997, pp. 34-39.

Variety, June 23, 1997, p. 44; January 11, 1999, p. 105.

Electronic:

Luc Besson Website,http://www.luc-besson.com, October 25, 2007.

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"Besson, Luc 1959-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Besson, Luc 1959-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/besson-luc-1959

"Besson, Luc 1959-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/besson-luc-1959

Besson, Luc

BESSON, Luc



Nationality: French. Born: Paris, 18 March 1959. Family : Married actress-model Milla Jovovich, 1997; divorced 1999. Has a daughter with actress Anne Parillaud. Career: Spent his childhood travelling with his parents, who were scuba diving instructors; wrote the first drafts of his films Le Grand bleu and The Fifth Element while still in his teens, mid-1970s; first came to Hollywood, 1977; worked as an assistant on films in Hollywood and Paris, as well as first assistant director for several advertising films, late 1970s-early 1980s; directed first feature, Le Dernier Combat, 1983; formed his own production company, Les Films du Loups, which eventually became Les Films du Dauphins; directed a Loreal commercial featuring his wife, Milla Jovovich,1997. Awards: Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film Critics Prize, Fantasporto Audience Jury Award-Special Mention, Best Director, and Best Film, for Le Dernier Combat, 1983; Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon-Best Director-Foreign Film, for La Femme Nikita, 1990; Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, for Nil by Mouth, 1997; Best Director Cesar Award, for The Fifth Element, 1997. Address: 33 rue Marbeauf, 75008 Paris, France.

Films as Director:

1983

L'Avant dernier(short) (+ pr)

1983

Le Dernier Combat (+ pr, sc)

1985

Subway (+ pr, sc)

1987

Kamikaze (co-d with Didier Grousset, + pr)

1988

Le Grand bleu (The Big Blue) (+ sc, lyrics, camera op, submarine crew)

1990

La Femme Nikita (Nikita) (+ sc, song)

1991

Atlantis (+ ph, ed)

1995

The Professional (Leont) (+ sc)

1997

The Fifth Element (+ co-sc)

1999

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (+ co-sc)



Other Films:

1985

Le Grand Carnaval (Arcady) (2nd unit d)

1986

Taxi Boy (Page) (tech advisor)

1993

Point of No Return (Badham) (based on La Femme Nikita sc)

1997

Nil by Mouth (Oldman) (pr)

1998

Taxi (Pirès) (sc, pr)

2000

Taxi 2 (Krawczyk) (sc, pr); The Dancer (Garson) (pr)



Publications


By BESSON: articles—

"Besson Meets Spielberg," interview with Jacques-Andre Bondy and Alan Kruger, in Premiere (Paris), November 1996.

"Cool Hand Luc," interview with Alan Kruger and Glenn Kenny, in Premiere (London), vol. 5, 1997.

"Astral Grandeur/Fantastic Voyage," interview with Andrew O. Thompson, in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), May 1997.

"Tall Storeys," interview with Nigel Floyd, in Time Out (London), 4 June 1997.

"Luc Besson: Writer/director," interview in Reel West (Bernaby, British Columbia), August-September 1997.

Interview with Robert W. Welkos, in Los Angeles Times, 11 November 1999.

On BESSON: book—

Hayward, Susan, Luc Besson, New York, 1998.

On BESSON: articles—

Chevallier, J., "Le Denier Combat," in Revue du Cinema (France). "L'Age du Capitaine," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1985.

Ferguson, K. "Tarzan Goes Underground," in Photoplay, September 1985.

Bodtker, H., "Splatter—'videovold' i naerbilber," in Film & Kino (Oslo), no. 3, 1985.

Chion, M., "Silka Kot Riba v Zvocnem Akvariju," in Ekran (Yugoslavia), no. 3/4, 1988.

Tangen, J. "'Det Store Bia': en dyp Film fra Besson?," in ZFilmtidsskrift (Oslo), no. 27, 1989.

Bassan, R., "Trois Neobaroques Francais," in Revue du Cinema (France), May 1989.

Strauss, F. "La Planete Besson," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 409, 1988.

Caron, A., "Pour quelques Besson de plus!," in Sequences (Montreal), September 1990.

Kelleher, E., "French Box Office Hit Nikita Bows Stateside via Goldwyn," in Film Journal (New York), March 1991.

Murray, S., "European Notes," in Cinema Papers (Victoria, Australia), August 1990.

Graye, J., and J. Noel, "Nikita," in Grand Angle (Mariembourg, Belgium), April 1990.

Lubelski, T., "Besson," in Kino (Warsaw), August 1991.

Ostria, V., "Besson Manque d'Air," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), October 1991.

Jousse, T., "L'Ecran Aquarium," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), October 1991.

Lefebvre, P., "Atalantis," in Grand Angle (Mariembourg, Belgium), September/October 1991.

James, C., "Film View: Word from Nikita: Hold the Subtitles," in New York Times, May 5, 1991.

Pezzotta, A., "Atlantis," in Segnocinema (Vicenza, Italy), May/June 1992.

Alexander, Max, "A Gaul in Hollywood," in Variety (New York), 10 October 1994.

Slabý, Petr, "Neobarokní intermezzo," in Film a Doba (Prague), Spring-Summer 1996.

Kenny, Glenn, "Braving the 'Element'," in Premiere (New York), May 1997.

Elley, Derek, "Pop Pic Auteur," in Variety (New York), 23–29 June 1997.

"Luc Besson," in Film Journal (New York), July 1997.

Williamson, K., "Imbessonism," in Box Office (Chicago), July 1997.

Chang, Chris, "Escape from New York," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1997.

Cosulich, O., "Quando il futuro diventa cult," in Revista delCinematografo (Rome), October 1997.

Martani, M., "Nouvelles images," in Cineforum (Bergamo, Italy), October 1997.


* * *

Most noted for their stunning visuals, Luc Besson's films often invite scrutiny of the blurred line between the artistic and the commercial. Making his directorial debut with Le Dernier Combat, Besson's beautifully executed black-and-white cinematography earned him a chance to make his first major feature, Subway, a film described by Michael Wilmington as "Steven Spielberg gone existentialist." Shot mostly at Beverly Center Cineplex, Subway creates an underground world of the Paris Metro, both eerie in its fluorescent darkness and charming in the interweaving of fast-paced editing and charismatic characters. A seemingly complex narrative of three separate strands is treated with a simplemindedness that makes it almost comic-book-like. It is at its best a skillful show of light and shadows, and at worst a flashy skeleton of a film that befits its inhabitants.

The Big Blue, Besson's third film, was a tremendous box office hit at home but a failure internationally. A breathtakingly filmed story about the lifetime friendship and rivalry between Jacques and Enzo, two free-divers, and their relationship with an American journalist (played by Rosanna Arquette), The Big Blue entangles too many elements at once to make sense. Jacques' mysterious bond with the ocean, as emphasized time and again by his ties with dolphins—it is no coincidence that Besson's production company in France is called Les Films du Dolphin—never goes beyond a pretentious justification for the showy underwater photography. The American journalist Joanna's fascination with Jacques, on the other hand, also never once sparks any romantic fulfillment. It is Jacques' peculiar friend, Enzo (played by Jean Reno, who later stars in The Professional), who anchors the film with his stocky rotundness and almost laughable yet respectable stubbornness.

Produced by the Samuel Goldwyn Company, La Femme Nikita returns to cityscapes and paints a bizarre picture of a female hitperson, working for the French equivalent of the CIA. Ultra-violence adorned with a triangular romance and spy-thriller suspense, Nikita seems to be the most interesting of Besson's films; or, at least, its complexity stems neither from the semi-hallucinatory ambiance in Subway nor the pretentious mythicism in The Big Blue, but rather from an uncanny interest and concern that develop in the viewer about Nikita. The character, proclaims Stanley Kauffmann, is "so interesting a wanderer between stages of moral consciousness that violence becomes one of the film's essentials." A genuine interest in her psychology provides the emotional depth that was lacking in Besson's previous works.

In The Professional, Besson continues his psychological study of marginalized, on-the-edge individuals: this time, a hitman, Leon, played by Jean Reno. Leon is the "Cleaner," New York's top hitman. He is never emotional; or better yet, as a professional, he never allows himself to be emotional. Through some inopportune circumstances he meets the twelve-year-old Mathilda (played convincingly by Natalie Portman). In her attempt to be trained as a hitperson in order to avenge her parents' murder, the process of Mathilda's makeover is in fact a vehicle for exploring the relationship between this odd couple. Walking the thin line between the innocent affection of a man and a child bonding (as in Paper Moon) and a portrayal of a potentially pedophilic liaison, Besson's incisive direction turns the film from a cliched story into an almost lyrical character study.

The last of Besson's 1990s features, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, is a muddled reworking of the Joan of Arc story, with the title character lacking any sort of psychology and becoming little more than an adolescent action heroine. The Messenger was preceded by the visually dazzling but otherwise annoyingly uneven The FifthElement. If this futuristic epic, most of which is set in the mid-23rd-century, seemed to be little more than a comic book come-to-life, that is understandable; Besson wrote the first draft of its script when he was sixteen years old. His scenario features two primary male characters, one a reluctant hero and the other an over-the-top villain, and a female who is an adolescent male fantasy figure: a near-nude, orange-haired nymphet. Unfortunately, the storyline in which they are involved is incoherent—but the film, produced on a $90-million budget, is worth seeing for its truly inventive production design.

One certainly would welcome the maturing of a director like Luc Besson, whose natural knack for cinematographic beauty has occasionally been enriched with some psychological depth. Going beyond the flashiness, Besson has shown a high potential for artistry, one that goes into the visuality of the imagistic world and actually strives for meanings. But questions still remain: what is it that we seek in cinema (a medium that is first and foremost visual) other than the visuals?

—Guo-Juin Hong, updated by Rob Edelman

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"Besson, Luc." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Besson, Luc." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/besson-luc

"Besson, Luc." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/besson-luc