Recently Jack and I enjoyed Lupin on Netflix. Language aside, it was a treat to watch chameleon Assane Diop run circles around police authority, all the while making his way towards truth and justice. I placed Maurice Leblanc’s books on hold immediately after finishing the first season and read first the collection titled Arsène Lupin VS Sherlock Holmes.
The pairing makes sense. Best detective versus best criminal. If Benedict Cumberbatch appears in the next season of Lupin, I will be very excited. But unfortunately for the book, the duel between Lupin and Sherlock (actually written as Herlock Sholmès and his faithful sidekick Wilson, because Doyle was not impressed with Leblanc’s playful jokes) takes away from the character of Lupin. The two gentlemen mostly spend more time comparing the size of their… brains, and not really in any clever way either. (I’m sure there’s some lesson here about people not shining as brightly when they resort to comparison instead of doing their own thing but let’s not get so preachy now).
Thankfully I was able to read Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Thief shortly after and that collection of stories was much more interesting, being a means of introducing Lupin in a roundabout way to the reader. As a character, book-Lupin is a sort of Frenchified Robin Hood, although he’s not about giving to the poor so much as he is indulging his own needs for adventure and romance. Everyone who hears his name assumes some sort of anxiety, but the tricks he pulls hardly seem like feats worthy of such panic. He’s certainly a hero for the children (if you want your child to glorify thieves), and there’s little reason to his choice of victim. In the last tale of the book, he gives his treasure up for love. I guess that’s what makes him a gentleman (???).
By contrast, Netflix-Lupin is motivated by the wrongful accusation of his father and the exposure of corruption in the police force (both caused by the same man). His romantic triangle stems from the background of a much-detailed childhood, and the traps he engineers for his foes are fun to anticipate and watch. Whereas book-Lupin is mostly about the burglar having some extra knowledge of his environment, Netflix-Lupin is a magician working hard to pull the blindfold over everyone else’s eyes. I would go so far as to argue that Netflix-Lupin improves upon the original Lupin, although perhaps this sort of argument would require reading of all of Leblanc’s works before having any merit.
Looking forward to the next season! It’s nice to see a book series improved upon on the screen.