One of my most interesting recent discoveries is a short film made by director Julien Landais. It’s titled DER DOPPELGANGER (2014) and stars Alain Delon’s youngest son, Alain-Fabien Delon Jr. who was just 20-years-old at the time. What fascinates me about Landais’s film is that it seems to borrow some visual motifs from my favorite horror anthology, SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (1968), which featured Alain Delon in a segment directed by Louis Malle as well as Rene Clement’s magnificent PURPLE NOON (1960). Similarities with Malle’s film include titles that change from orange to red and the use of white and black costumes to represent good and evil or the shadow of the “other.” I was also struck by Landais’ use of a mirror to frame Alain-Fabian and the intense close-ups of his eyes and neck that was reminiscent of the erotic way Clement shot his star in PURPLE NOON. Father and son look eerily alike in a number of scenes and the meta nature of DER DOPPELGANER makes it a fascinating companion to Malle’s original film. Landais has said that his own short was inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Double” and Alfred de Musset’s narrative poem “December Nights” while Malle’s film was based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “William Wilson” and PURPLE NOON is based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” The first three tales all involve narcissistic men haunted by doppelgangers who are eventually driven mad by their doubles. And Highmith’s crime thriller explores the very nature of identity.
Young Alain-Fabien obviously takes after his father and has inherited his good looks but he also manages to maintain a smoldering intensity throughout DER DOPPELGANGER that suggests he may have also inherited some of his father’s acting skills. Landais short film is beautifully shot and composed and contains one particularly stunning moment where Alain-Fabien suddenly seems to develop fangs and bites his double on the neck. I’ve always wished that Alain Delon had made a vampire film when he was younger and that brief moment in DER DOPPELGANGER gives me hope that I’ll eventually get to see his son vamp it up in a French horror film.
Following a selection of stills I’ve posted Landais’ short film below for your viewing pleasure (and mine) followed by Malle’s original WILLIAM WILSON. Watching them back to back is a real treat, especially if you’re a Delon fan.