Canal + launched yesterday evening “Paris Police 1900”, a historical series which transports us straight into the twists and turns of the Belle Epoque. How did Fabien Nury, the creator, work to compose this story?
This Monday February 8 at 9:05 p.m., Canal + launched on its Paris Police 1900 antenna, the new original creation of the channel which takes us straight to the Belle Époque, while the Dreyfus affair is dividing the country. When the corpse of an unknown woman is found in the Seine, an ambitious young inspector will find himself at the heart of an investigation which will turn out to be much more complex than he thought.
This daring historical series was created by Fabien Nury, a comic book writer specializing in the historical genre and passionate about thrillers, who found in Paris Police 1900 the perfect playground. He was thus able, for 8 episodes, to blur the lines between reality and fiction, in order to offer an immersive work that shows us an often overlooked facet of the Belle Epoque. What were the stages of his work? And what are the fictional elements of the series? Fabien Nury answered these questions at a press conference.
In order to offer a historical series worthy of the name, Fabien Nury has done more than a year of research to find the subject of his fiction. Thus, from 2016 to 2017, he constantly documented himself to find elements from which he could create a story. “The documentation on this type of series is the first key to the work”, He declared. It is also through this documentation that Fabien Nury found his ideas for plot and characters. Its principle: “instead of inventing, I preferred to extrapolate on the basis of a reality”. He therefore started from real historical facts, to which he added fictional details to invent his story, like series like Boardwalk Empire, which he also cites as one of his inspirations.
“The Fort Chabrol affair, the anti-Semitic League of France and the French political situation in 1899 are events and facts that are very well documented. I also found a lot of material on the discovery of the body and the early stages of the investigation of the bloody suitcase case. It helped us a lot for the autopsy scene for example, because we really had the details. However, these two cases had nothing to do with each other. So I used fiction to build a connection that allows me to make what I’m saying a little bit wrong, but also a bit true. I made sure that reality and fiction don’t work in a binary way, but that it is an infinite gray area”.
When fiction and reality intertwine
The historical facts related therefore really existed, and all the characters, except inspectors Jouin and Fiersi, are true historical figures. All of Fabien Nury’s work was then to bring a part of fiction to characters who have a historical trajectory already traced. Thus, the nickname “funeral ceremony” was really given to Marguerite Steinheil and the speeches made by Jules Guérin in front of the crowd are verbatims. It was then Fabien who chose to make them what they are in fiction. “For the Guérin brothers, I would have been unable to invent that we could create a newspaper called “L’antijuif”. On the other hand, it was I who decided to make Jules the Alcapone of anti-Semitism. This character is at the same time a caid, a politician and a sort of fat retarded boy who is unable to live if he does not have his pack of fifteen butchers around him.”
Regarding the violence shown in the series, Fabien Nury wanted to break this idealized image of the Belle Epoque. “I didn’t want to do a nostalgic series of the period, where we could say “it was better before”.. ” At the time of his research, it was the barbarity of the time that jumped out at him. Violence was everywhere, as well in politics, as in the couple or in the legislation. This violence also made it possible not to offer the spectator a simple history lesson, but to try to make him feel the reality of this troubled period. And it seems that this is a successful bet for Canal + which manages to offer us a dark thriller combining fiction and reality.
Find Paris Police 1900 every Monday evening at 9:05 p.m. on Canal +.
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