While in college I was introduced to the movie La Femme Nikita, a French film with English subtitles about a criminal forced to work for a spy agency. It starred Anne Parillaud as Nikita (Besson’s first wife) and Jean Reno even had a role, as he has had in most of Besson’s films.
La Femme Nikita’s stark world and crisp story brought Luc Besson to my attention in the early 1990s and he held it continuing to produce movies like The Professional (1994), which had Jean Reno in a starring role with Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman. In 1997 there was The Fifth Element, which blew my mind and is still one of my favorite movies. Starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich (who would later become Besson’s second wife), and Gary Oldman. In 1999, there was The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, which starred Milla Jovovich as Joan, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, and John Malkovich.
Image via Wikipedia
He not only directs, but also produces and writes behind the scenes. Movies such as The Transporter, which launched Jason Statham‘s career and has spawned two sequels (one of which comes out later this year), District B13, Danny the Dog (also known as Unleashed, starring Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, and Bob Hoskins…
Besson has had one heck of a career so far. And though he focuses on action films for the most part, I have to say that he’s also explored some deeper territory with movies like The Messenger and Danny the Dog. These are not your run of the mill action films. They have a heart and a message.
Luc Besson was born in Paris in 1959, son to two scuba instructors traveling and teaching around the world. As a child, he wrote early drafts of a number of stories, including The Fifth Element, while bored at school. His dreams of becoming a marine biologist focused on dolphins was shattered when, at age 17, he had a diving accident and was no longer able to dive.
It was after that he discovered television and movies and learned he could merge his various art interests together to tell stories. After a few years in America, he returned to France and started what was later named Les Films de Dauphins (The Films of Dolphins).
In 2008, Besson has two films coming to the big screen — Taken (starring Liam Neeson) and Transporter 3 (again starring Jason Statham). His career doesn’t seem to be slowing down any after that either, with thirteen more films in production for 2008 – 2011 according to IMDB.
I can only hope that as he hits age 50 in 2009 that he continues on his stride of making fun and intelligent movies!
p.s. If you want to pick up some of Luc Besson’s films, be sure to check out the following at Amazon: