Object of 17 novels and countless TV and film adaptations, the “thief gentleman” Arsène Lupine in Maurice Leblanc is a familiar character in French pop culture. His latest adaptation and most famous for the Brazilian public, is the Netflix, Lupine, which is played by the actor Omar Sy as a reinvented version of the thief.
After his father's imprisonment and wrongful death, Sy's character, Assane Diop, assumes Lupine's mantle to avenge him. Similar to Leblanc's character, Sy's Arsene Lupine is not a real person, but he pays homage to Leblanc's legacy.
Learn all about the hit series below.
The works before Netflix
Although his works may not be familiar to audiences outside France, Leblanc has long been a respected author in his country. According to a 1941 article in the New York Times, Leblanc was born in 1864 in Rouen, France, and moved to Paris in 1887 to become a journalist.
He wrote a weekly series of short stories, but he didn't have much success until 1906, when an editor of a new newspaper, Je Salts Tout, asked him to write a detective story. According to "Crime fiction at the time of the exhibition” (Crime Fiction at the Time of Exhibition), in David Drake, Sherlock Holmes mania was coming to France, and the publisher wanted Leblanc to write the equivalent in French, in the hope that newspaper sales would soar.
So Leblanc quickly wrote The Arrest of Arsene Lupine, which featured steamship passenger Bernard d'Andrézy, who divides his time between flirting with a woman and leading efforts to find out which passenger is really the famous thief Lupin. The twist at the end reveals that Bernard was Lupine all along, and he stole several valuables while misdirecting them all.
Readers were immediately drawn to the eccentric thief and gentleman who was a “man in a thousand disguises, long before the creation of characters like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible and even the saint.
As Drake showed in his article, by 1905 people were already familiar with the concept of the well-dressed “gentle thief” because of the real-life case of the intelligent anarchist and thief. Alexandre Marius Jacob, which made the public end up identifying with Lupin.
Alexander Jacob, known as Marius Jacob, was a French anarchist illegalist. An intelligent thief, equipped with a keen sense of humor, capable of great generosity to victims, which eventually made him one of the role models for Maurice Leblanc's character, Arsene Lupin.
In 1907, Leblanc published Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Burglar, his first collection of short stories Lupines. Over time, the author changed Lupine's motives so that he was less of a thief and more of a detective who worked to fix police mistakes behind the scenes. He actually became the French equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, a fact that Leblanc evoked when he included a character named "Herlock Sholmes" in a later story.
Books by Arsene Lupine
For those who enjoyed the Netflix series, you will be pleased to know that there are 22 books in Portuguese that can be purchased at various bookstores. Below are the works in order of events:
- Arsène Lupin: The Thief in the Cloak
- Arsene Lupine Against Herlock Sholmes
- The Confessions of Arsene Lupine
- Arsene Lupine in: The Hollow Needle
- 813 – The Double Life of Arsène Lupin
- Arsene Lupine and the crystal stopper
- Arsene Lupine and the shell shrapnel
- Arsene Lupine and the Golden Triangle
- Arsène Lupin and the Island of Thirty Coffins
- Arsene Lupine and the Tiger's Teeth
- Arsène Lupin and the eight chimes of the clock
- Arsene Lupin and the Countess of Cagliostro
- Arsene Lupine and the girl with green eyes
- The return of Arsene Lupine
- Arsene Lupine and the riddles
- Barnett Agency and Associates: The New Adventures of Arsène Lupin
- Arsene Lupine and the mysterious mansion
- Arsene Lupine and the mystery of Barre-y-va
- Arsene Lupine and the woman with two smiles
- Arsène Lupin and Victor, from the Anti-Crime Brigade
- Arsene Lupine and Cagliostro's Revenge
- The billions of Arsene Lupine
Inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, gentle thief Assane Diop wants revenge on a wealthy family for an injustice done to his father.
- Starring: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme
- Creation: George Kay
- Seasons: 3
- Episodes by season: 5
- Where to watch: Netflix
The great backdrop for Lupine's adventures is the city of Paris, France. And the series was actually filmed in the French capital, including scenes from the Louvre, featuring the most famous galleries and works of art like the Mona Lisa.
Another important place in the series is the house of the corrupt Pellegrini family, a large mansion where Assane's father Babakar (played by Fargass Assandé), was employed. The luxurious house was filmed in Paris and is, in real life, a museum: the Musee Nissim de Camondo, located in the 8th arrondissement, and which is open to the public.
Benjamin, Assane's accomplice and old school friend, owns an antique shop through which Assane sells his stolen goods. The real-life store is located in Paris, in rue des Rosiers, and is part of the well-known flea market area Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.
Other important filming locations in Paris include Jardin du Luxembourg, where the disguised Assane meets Juliette Pellegrini, and the famous bridge Post des Arts, where the character gives his child Raoul one of Arsene Lupin's books.
The beach scene that shows the climactic ending of Lupin's Part One was filmed in Étretat, where Assane takes Claire and Raoul to a seaside festival. The festival is a tribute to the author, Maurice Leblanc, who lived in the region and used the place in his books.
the beginning of Part 2 takes viewers to the giant clock of the Musee d'Orsay, along with the Chatelet Theater, the latter of which is significant because it is where the first play with the character of Arsene Lupin was staged. Buttes in Chaumont Park they are also featured in Part 2, along with the frightening catacombs of France, which are notoriously labyrinthine and filled to the brim with skeletons.
Lupine arrived by surprise and defeated several other productions such as The Queen's Gambit, tying with The Witcher with 76 million and second only to Bridgerton, with 82 million viewers. These are great numbers that gave 3 seasons to the series.
The series received excellent acclaim such as Judy Berman gives TIME Magazine who wrote: “Lupin is among the tastiest TV series of all time. The first three of the five episodes released this month, all directed by Louis Leterrier, are master classes in an elegant and glamorous suspense.”
Already karen han of Slate said, “The series also doesn't waste a single minute, rocking every moment full of suspense. Put it all together and it's one of the first candidates to steal a spot as one of the best shows of the year.”
And if it weren't just for the praise for a great first season, the second has gained even more supporters with comments like the one for Graeme Blundell of The Australian: "As unexpectedly as Lupine arrived and then disappeared like one of his hero's magic tricks – a wonderful piece of sleight of hand from Netflix – the brilliant French crime series has returned."
Lorraine Ali of Los Angeles Times adds: "Credit performer Omar Sy's charm for bringing this unlikely protagonist to life and infusing him with a depth that goes beyond the usual narrative of a tough guy seeking revenge."
Lupine is available on Netflix.