Stories about criminals inevitably capture our attention.
Violette Nozière (1978)
The real person behind the story: Violette Nozière
Violette Nozière became the protagonist of her own crime story at the tender age of eighteen when she was arrested for poisoning her parents to get her inheritance. Initially, the girl was sentenced to death, but it was later commuted to life imprisonment. Nine years later, Violette was pardoned, and 18 years later, she was officially rehabilitated, which was one of the most high-profile precedents in the history of French justice. Isabelle Huppert received a Cannes Film Festival award and a nomination for a Cesar for the role.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
The real person behind the story: Elmo Patrick Sonnier
The film is based on the book of the same name by the nun Helen Prejean, who, as part of her missionary work, became the spiritual mentor to Elmo Patrick Sonnier, a man sentenced to execution by electric chair for raping and murdering two teenagers. The film shows the viewer how the relationship between these two very different people changes as the day of the execution draws near. Susan Sarandon got an Oscar for her portrayal of Helen Prejean.
The real person behind the story: Aileen Wuornos
The story of Aileen Wuornos holds special significance in American history. Born into a dysfunctional family, she made a living as a prostitute and became addicted to drugs. In 1989 – 1990, Wuornos murdered and robbed seven men in Florida, becoming the second female serial killer in American history after Lavinia Fisher. The beautiful Charlize Theron, who won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the role, drastically changed her appearance for the role. The film follows the relationship between Wuornos and her lover Selby Wall, a character based on Tyria Moore.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The real person behind the story: Jesse James
The film tells the story of the American Robin Hood, the 19th-century robber Jesse James. Jesse James was the son of a wealthy farmer and committed crimes in retaliation for the South's Civil War defeat. He was eventually killed by Robert Ford, a twenty-year-old member of Jesse James's own gang. Ford's motive was to gain favour with the authorities. Brad Pitt plays Jesse James, and Ford is played by Casey Affleck, who was nominated for the Academy Award and a Golden Globe for the role.
The real person behind the story: Charles Bronson (not to be confused with the American actor)
Charles Bronson is one of Britain's most notorious criminals, with several high-profile heists to his credit. He spent a total of over 30 years in prison and, in doing so, made a name for himself as an artist and poet. His story was adapted for the screen by the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn with Bronson being played by Tom Hardy, who went all out to bulk up for the role. Tom Hardy also met with Bronson, who was so impressed by the actor's dedication that he shaved off his trademark moustache and gave it to Tom so he could wear it on set.
The Frozen Ground (2013)
The real person behind the story: Robert Hansen
In the 1970s, Anchorage, Alaska, was rocked by a series of brutal murders. As it turned out, the maniac was the local resident and model family man Robert Hansen. The film tells the story of his arrest, made possible by the testimony of the surviving victim, young prostitute Cindy Paulson, and the work of fictional detective Jack Halcombe, whose character is based on the real-life detective Glenn Flothe. The film stars John Cusack and Nicolas Cage.
The real person behind the story: Ronald and Reginald Kray
Legend follows the lives of the Kray twins, the notorious criminals who terrorised London in the 1950s and 1960s. The Kray twins and their gang robbed, killed and set fire to properties and became celebrities far beyond the criminal underworld. The writer John Pearson eventually wrote a book about them titled Profession of Violence: Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins. The film is essentially a screen adaptation of the book, with Tom Hardy as the Kray twins.
American Made (2017)
The real person behind the story: Barry Seal
Who would have thought that CIA-recruited military pilot Barry Seal could successfully combine his legitimate activities with running drugs for a major Colombian cartel? Constantly living on the edge, Seal eventually became a secret informant for the DEA (drug enforcement administration), and the cartel put a hefty reward on his head. The film was made by Doug Liman, the director of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow, and stars Tom Cruise as the charming outlaw.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
The real person behind the story: Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy had such charisma and magnetism that despite having murdered several dozen people, he still managed to marry and acquire numerous fans even as he was being investigated for the murders. It came as a shock for his wife, Liz Kendal, who had lived with him for several years, when news broke that her caring husband was a manipulative criminal and a cold-blooded murderer. The film follows the relationship between Bundy, played by Zac Efron and Liz Kendal through Bundy's arrest and subsequent trial.
True History of the Kelly Gang (2019)
The real person behind the story: Ned Kelly
The famed bandit who robbed banks and murdered law enforcement officers in the latter half of the 19th century is a controversial figure in his native Australia. Some consider him a ruthless murderer, while others regard him as a noble robber, an Australian Robin Hood.
But whatever the case may be, Ned Kelly became legendary while he was still alive, and the first film about him was released all the way back in 1906, and it happened to be the first feature-length film in cinema history. The latest version of the Kelly Gang story stars British actor George MacKay as the noble outlaw alongside Russel Crowe and Charlie Hunnam.