Peaky Blinders, 10 years already!

Peaky Blinders, 10 years already!

“The real star of the show, Cillian Murphy, is breathtaking from start to finish,” wrote Première when discovering its first season. Flashback.

On September 12, 2013, the English discovered Peaky Blinders on BBC Two. If the French public had to wait before having legal access to its first season (here, the series arrived on Arte from March 2015, then was broadcast on Netflix where it was a hit), it was a phenomenon across the Channel from its first episodes.

First was also under the spell. Here is our review, while waiting for news from the moviewhich should conclude the six intense seasons of Tommy Shelby’s story.

Jason Statham almost became Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby instead of Cillian Murphy

Against the backdrop of a luxurious reconstruction of Birmingham in 1919, the series Peaky Blinders gives the figure of the British thug the glamorous ancestor he lacked. An attractive Boardwalk Empire European style, worn by the magnetic Cillian Murphy.

Of American organized crime, one could trace with closed eyes a genealogy which would not forget to list even the most insignificant of the henchmen of Al Capone or John Dillinger. Thanks to Hollywood and its tons of films and series dedicated to writing the legend.

On this side of the Atlantic, everything remains to be done, however, and we must salute the Englishman’s efforts. Steven Knight to place the British gangster in a slightly less low profile lineage than usual. In his series Peaky Blinderswritten for the BBC, the screenwriter of Shadow Promises takes for once the opposite of the social realism dear to his compatriots, daring the shimmering fresco in costumes cut on the model of Boardwalk Empire.

Peaky Blinders takes place around the same time as the HBO saga, in the aftermath of the First World War. Tommy Shelby, mastermind of the gang that ruled the underbelly of Birmingham at the time, looks great. Haughty head carriage, perfectly cut pea coat, clean-shaven temples, this working class hero sends the thick bosses of the films of Guy Ritchie.

Ruthless in business, expert in handling the razor blade (hidden, according to local folklore, in the lining of his cap, hence the nickname “blinding visors”), Tommy is an eminently romantic figure. Traumatized return from the French trenches (like the character of Michael Pitt In Boardwalk Empire), taking refuge in opium (like De Niro in Once upon a time in America), this bad boy is also a romantic who transforms into a kitten as soon as his sweetheart appears on the screen.

The series, taking frank liberties with History, relates its irresistible (and fictional) rise in the manner of a song of gesture, peppered with Homeric scuffles with rival gangs or with the police forces sent by a certain Winston Churchill.

The sumptuous artistic direction of the series is in tune with this mythologizing enterprise, transforming the city’s working-class suburbs into a phantasmagorical moor, bathed in the thick smoke vomited by the blast furnaces. Brilliant idea, by the way, that these credits, different for each episode, in the form of a sequence shot honoring the incredible sets built by the decorators, all against the backdrop of Red Right Hand from Nick Cave. The Australian musician – like the White Stripes – is heavily involved in the soundtrack. The series even borrows titles composed for the films of Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoatmajor aesthetic references of this Peaky Blinders.

We will hardly be surprised to come across one of the cast of season 2 Lawless Men of Hillcoat, Tom Hardythat Steven Knight himself directed on Locke. Great shot for the series even if the actor is only ever there to respond to the real star of the show, Cillian Murphy, breathtaking from start to finish. The Irishman’s performance, his features more emaciated than ever, has a lot to do with the almost supernatural stature to which Tommy ends up reaching over the course of the episodes. “He’s a god, he’s a man / he’s a ghost, he’s a guru”sing Nick Cave in opening. Until now, the small hits that abound in contemporary British crime fiction have lacked a fictional patron saint to whom they can address their prayers. The injustice is finally righted.

Grégory Ledergue

Peaky Blinders: the true story of the Birmingham gang

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