Directors: Hans Herbots and Tom Shankland
Writers: Toby Finlay and Richard Warlow
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Jenna Coleman, Billy Hole, Eli Bamber, Ames Edireuer, Tim McInerney, Matild Warnier
Streaming on: Netflix
As is the case with any artistic excavation of history, there are two different dimensions The snake, a limited series of real crimes based on the life of serial killer Charles Sobhray. The first – perhaps the most common way of consuming and consuming through a long-form narrative – is a purely sensory dimension. On the technical front, The snake is a master class in film production. Writing, acting and building tension are reminiscent of the Pablo Escobar-oriented seasons of Netflix’s original breakthrough, Drugs. Almost every one of the eight-hour episodes is composed to call for the urgent urgency of Oscar winner Ben Affleck Slang – the third episode, in particular, prolongs the tense airport sequence, upgrading to a flight taking off with a petrified victim, who has been planning a final escape from the lion’s den for days. Tahar Rahim (COM)Prophet,, The towering tower,, The Moorish) is a revelation like the sociopathic “crescent” deceiver: an anxious combination of charismatic and chilling, charming and condescending. The French-Algerian actor possesses the screen with cool composure, turning the “Hippie Trail” universe into a shady hell in the mid-1970s for the unpretentious Caucasian travelers.
The narration of The snake follows a perspective-shifting structure that allows for an eerie 360-degree view of the period. The series opens with what was essentially a “major episode” in 1976 in Bangkok, where Sobhraj is already a fluent-speaking gem dealer chasing two Dutch backpacks and an American girl – their disappearance takes place in and around his apartment. for tourism complex Kanit House and attracts the attention of an idealistic young Dutch diplomat named Hermann Knippenberg (Dunkirkis Billy Howell). This main episode – where we get a general idea of the pseudonym of Sobhraj Alain, his accomplices, his way of acting – then flows, both in spirit and later, throughout the rest of the series. The events go back from the individual arcs of different characters, a template for merging chronology that is repeatedly used to intensify the intrigue: Sobhraj’s lover Marie-Andre Leclerc (great Jenna Coleman) in the second episode, an unsuspecting Parisian tenant in the third, filing signals for a French couple in the fourth, etc. One person’s foreground soon becomes the background of the next. For example, at one point Sobraj disappears on a mysterious business trip for three months, during which the focus is precisely on the desperate resident of Kanit House; the very next episode delves into where Sobrage was in those months before his return to Bangkok. What this technique does is repeat the omnipresence and control of man himself, as if to suggest that no matter what angle he sees it, there is a sense of multiplicity about his deception: he models his crimes in a way that allows him to abdicate. sole responsibility and in a way that involves his people, without them fully realizing – or choosing to realize – their complicity.
On the other hand, designing Herman’s persecution as lonely and bureaucratically disappointing, The snake it also affects the peripheral disorder of the fragile, coup-stricken democracy in Thailand, a country that allows someone to falsify passports and steal Sobhraj’s identity, while limiting the agency of a foreign embassy in the midst of a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. The series only hints at the chaotic political landscape without diving into it, instead allowing Sobrage’s journey to dictate the country’s recent history. Herman’s growing obsession feels a bit exaggerated after a while, but it reflects the porosity of an environment in which several low-ladder hippie deaths are not considered worthy of attention and resources.
Which brings us to the second and more significant dimension of The snake. This is the story of an Asian killer – half Vietnamese, half Indian – of French nationality, who hunts down Western tourists. As a result, the innocent victims are largely white, the pursuing revenge alliance is entirely European, the shaking authorities are Thai, Sobraj’s ruthless husband on Friday (brilliantly brutal Amesh Edireweera, like Ajay) is also Indian and perhaps the only “colored” good guys are the low cops from Delhi and Kathmandu who end up catching Sobhraj. It could then be argued that this series, like several Western shows about iconic Asian heroes, fell victim to the scandalous white savior syndrome. But I believe it is not so clear The snake, whose white savior syndrome is not so much a “complex” as a cold fact that determines the DNA of Sobhraj’s legacy.
It may be tempting to detail the circumstances of Charles Sobray’s conception – the Vietnam War, American military oppression, deep-seated racism in France, his childhood trauma, the spiritual right of the hippie movement. But giving any context to the rise of a serial killer risks humanizing – and rationalizing – a despised legacy. Unlike, say, a Lupine, where the black super-thief is a direct but valiant consequence of systemic racism, giving Sobrage the luxury of the past, may mean that his behavior is wrong but “understandable.” He may also have portrayed the victims – no matter how immoral or insensitive – as aimless wanderers who “deserve to die,” a dangerous line of thought that reflects Sobraj’s own philosophy.
In the last few episodes, The snake hints at the history of its origins, but does so in a way that insults both the system and the criminal. There are no tangible villains or heartbreaking flashbacks to arrogant wealthy aristocrats abusing poor Asian teenagers – which ultimately implies that monsters like Sobrage were not “created” but born. There is no justification, no tragedy or injustice in the world that can be directly held accountable for an unwavering mind like his. (Case in point: The Joker in the black Knight.) Its bitterness towards the West – directed at their lowest hanging and most vulnerable fruit – is a brutal form of reverse racism, rooted not so much in the dormant desire to look like them as in the fear of how they claim to see it. .
Towards the end we see Charles Sobrage sitting in a prison cell in New Delhi and mocking a police officer, referring to the hysteria around him. Some excited prisoners strain to get a clear idea of him. He says he is loved in India, a hero – a moment that somehow reflects a problem that often hinders human rethinking in modern pop culture. Whether it’s a report, profiles, anecdotes, biographies or even a Bollywood movie (Charles’ main aura), there has always been a strange sense of pride and respect for the way Charles Sobray is viewed in South Asia. His legacy has long been fetishized (the “bikini killer”) in India, probably because his choice of victims may have calmed the insecurity of the oppressed brown man. Somewhere along the way, an international criminal operating from his “backyard” to aim at a white skin has become a deadly symbol of Eastern resistance. If something The snake is a refreshing restoration of balance. Riding a wave of anti-establishment fever, narrators of a new era tend to sacrifice the primordial nature of their material in front of the altar of awakened posture and tonal balance. The snake he boldly opposes this tendency, remaining loyal to the non-isolated reality – the evil brown villain against the crazy white hero – instead of retro-adapting the loose body of one era to the politically correct heart of another. It reduces Charles Sobrage from an image of an individual, a portrait of a man – and most importantly, from a man to a reptile.