Mesrine the killer instinct
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MESRINE: The Killer Instinct. Psychological Explanations of Criminal Behavior. Mesrine -Part I (2008) /Elements. The honing of war—torture in Algeria(Lombroso: soldiers, shepherds and priests)/1959-1961 From the war-zone to the “civilized”-zone: JOB

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MESRINE: The Killer Instinct

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Mesrine the killer instinct

MESRINE: The Killer Instinct

Psychological Explanations of Criminal Behavior


Mesrine part i 2008 elements

Mesrine-Part I (2008) /Elements

  • The honing of war—torture in Algeria(Lombroso: soldiers, shepherds and priests)/1959-1961

  • From the war-zone to the “civilized”-zone: JOB

  • “La dentelle”…Petite bourgeoisie, “Belavenir”

  • Place Pigalle, Moulin Rouge –Paris’ Red District

  • The Lombrosian tandem: Delinquent/prostitute ~ “Moral insanity”


Mesrine part i elements

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Gambles his pay away

  • Gambling/narcotics/prostitution=remit of the low-tenacity-violent quadrant of Veblen’s diagram

  • Gambling: belief in luck, animism, erotic dissipation

  • “Boulot au noir”: low-tenacity, hire me  criminal subculture, established network


Mesrine part i elements1

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Starts at the bottom: burglaries

  • He is part of “Guido”’s (G. Depardieu) team: local boss of a wider constellation, part of the MOB….

  • Itself with very solid political ties, OAS (Organisation de l'arméesecrète/ old school imperialists) vs. General C. De Gaulle

  • “Boulot au noir”: low-tenacity, hire me  criminal subculture, established network (“part” of the system…)


Mesrine part i elements2

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Hierarchy is clear from the outset: Guido’s “wisdom”: if you’re lucky you’ll end up with “this” (mangy bar)…

  • Toward a finer psycho-sociological portrait of Mesrine: low-tenacity, violent, macho but NOT GREEDY…One stock character of the underworld that he hates, which?

  • The pimp… Gruesome execution, tinged with racism “arabe”…

  • Unlike most mobsters he is not ATTACHED to life, the accumulation of money being the symbol of such attachment


Mesrine part i elements3

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Breaks with the exigencies of a respectable milieu bourgeois

  • Does not go to work—no “slave to the alarm-clock”

  • Insults his father, gives in to his wanderlust (Lombrosian trait)—can’t stand still

  • WOMEN –eroticism, all kinds: from the prostitute, the easy ones, the demur type, anything he can seduce (dissipation)


Mesrine part i elements4

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • LOVE

    • Janou (Jeanne Schneider), 1966-69

    • Joyce, 1970-1973

    • Sylvia Jeanjacquot, 1978-1979

  • Career: from burglary to hold-ups (du casse au braquage)

  • Cycle: 1962 in prison, caught—

  • Tries to go clean, Tabacoff’s workshop, artistic disposition (erotic types knack for art)

  • Laid off, immediate relapse


Mesrine part i elements5

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Violent reaction against his first wife, Sofia: “…I will always choose my friends”…

  • Psychopathy

  • Canada: result of his emergeing RENEGADE, ANARCHISTIC bent

  • Gang subculture (Ohlin, Kubrin): from “criminal” to “conflict” subculture—Bandit plays solo/no structure

  • Yearning for HEROISM in a world that has left no space for the expression thereof


Mesrine part i elements6

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • POLITICS/ Crime never happens in a vacuum:

    • FLQ: Jean-Paul Mercier

    • In prison meets Paul Rose (FLQ, Laporte)

  • And they all have something in common…

  • The kidnap fails, and there is the Le Bouthillier murder case, linked to his trajectory, which will never be solved…

  • Apprehended in Arizona, extradited to Montreal, the myth takes shape, the media pounce on it….


Mesrine part i elements7

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • USC: the infamous Unitéspéciale de correction, St Vincent de Paul, Laval

  • Lo and behold Mercier is there too

  • Escape was sensational…

  • But the single (double)-handed enterprise to free all the prisoners was nothing short of legendary

  • An exploit of pure heroism cherished by ALL [incarcerated] criminals, from low-class delinquents to terrorists


Mesrine part i elements8

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • “On passe à la télé, Jean-Paul…la GLOIRE, la gloire…”

  • Heroism, to be remembered

  • Now the icon is assembled: PUBLIC ENEMY #1

  • The media, us, have a natural hunger for such types…

  • Interesting scene: the break-up with Janou occurs in the [sheltering] office of a LAWYER,

  • Insulating conduit between the two worlds…


Mesrine part i elements9

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Which two worlds?

  • The upper and the lower barbarous ones, divided by the tenacity-divide…

  • Then, he and Mercier kill the two rangers and pass the point of no return…

  • To Janou: “No one gets me killed until I decide it to be so”

  • Dehorsou mort(s)…

  • Embrace with DEATH/end of part I


Mesrine part i elements10

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • 1970-1973: roves –from the USA to Venezuela, with Mercier and his girlfriend

  • Eventually returns to Paris

  • Throughout this interlude Possibly shielded by the remnants of the former OAS network

  • All in all this extraordinary exile had lasted 6 years—long time to earn the mob’s forgiveness

  • 1972 caught; pulls off another pehenomenal escape from the courthouse of Compiègne with the help of his new associate, Michel Ardouin (highlight of part II)


Mesrine part i elements11

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • But that only buys him 4 months of freedom

  • Meanwhile the show thickens: enter Commissaire Broussard, the SUPERCOP

  • The natural enemy of Public Enemy #1

  • Both tough, both ambitious, vain—respectful of each other’s manhood

  • A total show

  • The paper are having a ball with this, of course


Mesrine part i elements12

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • Broussard apprehends him in 9/1973

  • And M. ends up at La Santé, Paris’ High-security penitentiary/sentenced to 20 years

  • In essence it is over—the jig is up

  • But then, possibly to cause an embarrassment to the presidency of Giscard d’Estaing

  • 3/1978: His lawyer (most likely) slips a pair of guns in the prison so that Mesrine may improvise one more, his last, evasion…


Mesrine part i elements13

Mesrine-Part I/Elements

  • 1978-1979: the final act

  • Variety of shenanigans, robberies, obscure political dealings

  • But mostly an absurd circus of publicity, fomented by the media, which interview him in clandestine fashion, even though he is a supposedly super-dangerous fugitive

  • The obvious finale: the grand ambush (possibly orchestrated by pro-Giscardian forces to put an end to the charade) at the Porte de Clignancourt


The bandit

“The Bandit”

  • Spiritual drift: Peaceable vs. Barbarous

  • Tenacity: Low vs. High

  • This yields 4 categories:

    • PLoT: The Dropout

    • PHiT: “The Engineer”

    • BLoT: The Low-Class delinquent/Don

    • BHiT: The politician/CEO/Techno-General

  • And Mesrine?


The bandit1

“The Bandit”

  • Spiritual drift: Mixed, with far weightier leaning toward violence, “un fauve” (Sylvia)

  • Tenacity: Decidedly low

  • BUT intelligent, artistic (fine writer, illustrator and cook), dissipative, erotic, HEROIC (code of honor)…AND…

  • DEATH-PRONE

  • The third dimension…Greedy vs. Death-Prone


The bandit2

“The Bandit”

  • So may redefine our 4 initial categories:

    • Low-Class Delinquent?

    • BloT/G

    • CEO?

    • BHiT/G

    • The Engineer?

    • PhiT/G

    • The Dropout?

    • PloT/G

  • And 4 new categories…


The bandit3

“The Bandit”

  • Consider:

    • PloT/D:

    • The terrorist (righteous)

    • BHiT/D

    • The Condottiere (Mussolini, Hitler…)

    • PhiT/D

    • The Martyr

    • BloT/D:

  • The BANDIT


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