Jean-Paul Belmondo: Le Professionnel

Jean-Paul Belmondo's battered face, laconic style and roguish smile captured the imagination of French 1960s youth.

By Balthazar Malevolent

Jean-Paul Belmondo: Le Professionnel

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo died on Monday 6 September at his home in Paris aged 88. Jean-Paul Belmondo was born on April 9, 1933, in the family of a sculptor and an artist. He was a sportsman and had always been keen on football, cycling, and boxing. The latter Belmondo was engaged professionally. However, he chose an acting career instead of a sports one. Belmondo became one of the brightest faces of the French New Wave in cinema. In 1960, Belmondo played in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, which is considered one of the milestones of the movement. Belmondo continued to work with Godard and other great French classics: François Truffaut, Claude Sautet, Louis Malle. Belmondo played in auteur films as well as adventure, comedy, and action. The actor performed stunts on his own. Many know Belmondo from The Professional, The Man from Rio, Ace of Aces, Is Paris Burning.

Le Professionnel tells a story of a French secret agent Josselin Beaumont, who is sent to the fictional African country of Malagawi on government orders to assassinate President N'Jala, who is undesirable to the French authorities. Suddenly, the political situation changes, and to prevent a last-minute assassination attempt the French secret service extradites Beaumont to the authorities of the African republic. After torture and interrogation under drugs influence, he is sentenced to a long period of imprisonment in a reform camp. Beaumont and another prisoner escape from the camp. They are confronted by a detachment of soldiers who arrive in the village and Beaumont's comrade is killed. Beaumont returns to Paris, where he warns his former leaders by cipher telegram that he intends to honestly fulfill his mission. In this way, he defies the French secret services, who have betrayed him.

Meanwhile, President N'Jala arrives in France on an official visit. The French authorities are expecting to build a nuclear power plant in his country and raise the security services to protect the dictator. Beaumont successfully lies to the agents, avenges the interrogation and beating of his wife, uncovers the treachery of his friend and colleague Captain Valeras, and in a fair duel kills the commissaire Rosen, who has relentlessly pursued him.

Beaumont infiltrates the Château de Maintenon near Paris, where the security chiefs have accommodated N'Jala. He manages to set N'Jala up to be shot by the assistant inspector Fargeы. Beaumont's revenge succeeds: with the help of the press he has completely discredited the French secret services. Beaumont walks towards the N'Jala's helicopter while colonel Martin - Beaumont's former superior - begs the minister to stop Beaumont. The minister gives the order and Farges fires a round from a machine gun into Beaumont's back and kills him with two single shots.

Based on the novel Death of a Thin-Skinned Animal by Patrick Alexander, the film appeals to real events, namely the friendship between the French government of Giscard d'Éstaing and the Central African dictator Bokassa and the development of uranium deposits in the Republique Centrafricaine on favorable terms for France. The film mentions the construction of a nuclear power plant and the Opération Barracuda, which was canceled at the last minute in the film, changing the course of events. The corresponding dates also coincide, Beaumont disappears in 1979 and reappears two years later in France in 1981. N'Jala's military rank also matches, in the film he is a colonel, as is Bokassa in reality; Bokassa lived in a chateau near Paris after the overthrow, as is shown in the film. The Malagawi flag is fictional, but its colors match the flag of the Republique Centrafricaine - green, yellow, red, and blue.

Jean Paul Belmondo
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