Gaga, Gucci and Prison Ferrets: How Real Crime Conquered the World Criminal movies

What lasted so long, House of Gucci? The story was meant to be filmed from the moment the bullet left fashion heiress Maurizio Gucci dead in front of his Milan office in March 1995 – according to a witness, it was shot by a hitman with a “beautiful, clean hand”. Ridley Scott’s film now finally arrives from Star Force and Lady Gaga Gucci’s former wife Patrizia Reggian. But a simple story was enough: a glittering box of money, revenge, and a villain were followed in prison by the illegal pet ferret Bambi.

Real crime gold. So now that the movie is really here, does Gucci’s case finally feel like a strange movie? Put it on schedule. The development of the film began in the prehistory of entertainment: 2006. At the time, luxury film was still the main prize in any news story, and real crime – that junk bag genre – would simply be happy for the association. Now, however, there is an atmosphere of an alienated couple in the film and the real crime. If Maurizio Gucci had been shot via Via Palestro last week, Netflix would already have the rights and the podcast would be on Spotify.

This is how real crime conquered the world. The huge success of the 2014 podcast series is still an origin story, but the peak never seems to come. The genre has become bigger than movies – thanks to an interconnected partnership with pods and streaming.

“When I started investigating real crime, no one took it seriously,” says New York author Jean Murley, who published The Rise of True Crime in 2008: 20th Century Murder and American Popular Culture. “Now it feels like the dominant form of storytelling in pop culture. And I’m happy. I think it has a lot to tell about ourselves. ”It probably wouldn’t tell us about the film.” The real Crime movies were definitely bigger before, ”Murley says. We are moving. ”

The films were there first… Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, based on the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein.
The films were there first… Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, based on the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein. Photo: BFI

But the movies were there first. Think classics: Fritz Lang’s groundbreaking M was born out of real infanticide; Psycho saw the gloomy case of Ed Gein reusing Hitchcock. In addition to the individual milestones, the film’s storytelling – Gangster movies, Horror movies, thrillers, westerns – all grew out of real crime. It’s less of a sub-genre than the soul of a movie.

The genre of the big screen became a sliding scale from a restrained documentary to a starry and scandalous one. House of Gucci is, of course, the latter – bloody soap.Of course Jared Leto is involved and is already a meme in his velvet suit at the London premiere. Red carpet sweats also feel old-fashioned. At a higher level, real crime is now going differently. Stories can still focus on the wealthy and the infamous – but only for a specific purpose.

Take The People v OJ Simpson, the long-awaited dramatization of 2016. Stylistically, it had everything the series gives and the film didn’t. The breathing space of its operating time, the episodic structure, the space for the details of the crumb of bread – all this came with streaming and TV that fit perfectly into the real crime. But there was also the question of tone. After the series, the bar was set, whatever the media. If the project was to reopen a famous old wound, such as the killing of Nicole Brown Simpson, it would also have to expand the lens, humanize the victim, contextualize everything. Mere crime could not be the only story.

For podcasts, the whole point has been the mundane. Terrible murders, everyday victims. The teaching of movies like M or Psycho – that monsters are among us, so FFS rolls the window – now comes from Park Predators and Wine & Crime instead. The low technology of everything only makes the gap clearer, millions of dollars away from the aggressive gloss of Ridley Scott.

Still, many real crime podcasts offer cinematic scenes. This American Life – a series from which the Serial span-off – says it is making “movies on the radio.” But cinematic touches feel less of a tribute than a cannibalization of parts.

Even the Hollywood crime story is now becoming a podcast. Film director Vanessa Hope is the granddaughter of filmmaker Walter Wanger and actress Joan Bennett, once the leading femme fatale. In 1951, Wanger shot the relationship while suspecting his wife’s agent, Jennings Lang, in a Beverly Hills parking lot. This year, Hope told the story in a 10-part podcast called Love Is a Crime, in which Jon Hamm and Zooey Deschanel played his grandparents. It made perfect sense for Hope that the project was not a film. “Hollywood has always made money with a gun and a girl. The gun is praised and the girl – the woman – is silent.

“Stylistically, it had everything a film can’t give”… Cuba Gooding as Jr. Simpson in The People v OJ Simpson. Photo: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy

A similar wave of change has reached Britain. Last September, a huge audience watched Des, ITV’s three-part drama about the arrest of Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen in 1983. Screenwriter Luke Neal had been inspired by The People v OJ Simpson. “You start thinking you’re watching OJ survive. And the splendor is that he ends up as a small figure. What keeps you there is a human price. “

In Des, Neal created the same dynamic. “We look at these stories because we want to know who this person is who is robbing other people of their lives. In fact, it doesn’t matter. What do people whose lives he took. The problem with real crime is that it wants to compete with fiction, so you end up with countless Ted Bundy movies. But real killers have no glamor. The truth isn’t in Jamie Dorna’s sexy cat and mouse game.

Long-term real crime also raised interest elsewhere. Another landmark was The Jinx, a 2015 portrait by Andrew Jareck of Robert Durst, the heir to the U.S. estate and now convicted murderer. The finale contained a muted confession that was apparently recorded by accident. How could a movie respond to that? (And who now remembers All Good Things, a Durst-inspired film starring Jarecki five years earlier, starring the vague Ryan Gosling?)

The impulse to crack down on cases has been linked to a real crime podcast. The fact that the results often end in shoulder duty is not a breach of contract. Loose threads are only picked up from the net. But for Hollywood, uncertainty is death. The exception that confirmed the rule was the Zodiac, the ticket proceeds covered in suspicions by David Fincher, which did not inspire any scams. (Fincher then took his serial killer style to Netflix with the stylishly teasing Mindhunter series.)

“Real killers don’t have glamor”… David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen in the TV series Des. Photo: ITV

But real crime as a direct investigation is not the only new task. Fans of the genre have always skewed at women. Podcasts have only made it more effective, and the result is a work landscape – and this may seem strangely dynamic – for women murdered by women. There is an explanation. Social psychologist Amanda Vicary is a real crime fan with a professional interest. “My research,” he says, “shows that women like real crime when it gives them information about ways to escape the killer.” If Horror Films give our fear centers a harmless practice, modern real crime has a grim practical purpose. “The women are listening,” Vicary adds, “to find out what to do if they are thrown into the trunk of a car.”

Of course, the House of Gucci also focuses on the woman. The Black Widow trope is as old as it is statistically unlikely and commercially attractive. If the story overlaps with Killer Women With Piers Morgan, it’s not the first film to pull an authoritative male director into the real story of an accused woman. This year’s second major real crime film was Stillwater, in which Tom McCarthy plays the case of Amanda Knox, who was released from murder in a four-year Italian prison. Knox himself went public with his anxiety.

The House of Gucci has also received criticism from family members for several reasons: 1) invasion of privacy; 2) Al Pacino’s performance of Patriarch Aldo Gucci (“fat, short, ugly”). But it would be a mistake to think that the real crime in the film was the only problem. The entire genre still lives on ethically thin ice. Success may not help. This September, a dizzying podcast-type uproar greeted the disappearance of American “vanlifer” Gabby Petito. It only was confirmed when he was found killed. Big True Crime was already at work. “When you put Hulu on,” her mother Nichole Schmidt tweeted this month, “and your daughter’s story is a recommended program.”

Even lovers of the genre also suffer from attachment to one kind of victim. “Real crime has never reflected the reality of murder,” Jean Murley says. “It’s almost a type of fantasy. Who is being killed in America? Disproportionately it is young colorful men. But the real victim of the crime is a young, beautiful, white woman. It is well ritualized. ” Murley reflects on this and other issues in an updated version of his book. There is much to be said for the real crime of the 21st century.

Author Neal is optimistic – cautious. “I think the real crime is changing,” he says. “And it’s good. It needs to. Because, in fact, life isn’t cheap.”

The House of Gucci will premiere in British cinemas on 26 November.

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