Monday, May 11, 2009

Cinema verité

I’d been meaning to do a little write-up on French movie-houses for some time. But with so many things to write about (The cinemas themselves – so numerous and clean! The seats – so comfortable! The popcorn – so not available! The screens – so tiny!) I could not choose but one.

Until I learned about the Star Killer.

The Star Cinema is one of the smaller theaters in town. We don’t go to it too often - it seems to get the less prestigious and/or popular releases of the smaller cinemas on the island.

It is distinguished, however, by it's key role in one of Strasbourg’s most infamous crimes.

Roland Moog was a projectionist in the theatre in 1995. He was dating (or married to) Carole Prin, a cashier at the same theatre. Carole was 8 months pregnant with Roland’s child in May. One night, she called him at work – the baby was coming now. Roland told her to call a cab and go to the maternity hospital, and he would rush there to be by her side. Within minutes, he was at the hospital – but Carole was not. She never showed up.

A massive search was launched, but Carole had disappeared. Given her condition, no one believed that she had simply run away, and suspicion turned to Roland. Though Carole’s body had not been found, he was incarcerated in 1998.

It was not until 1999, when Roland’s twin brother, cleaning out his brother’s garage, came across an old trunk. Opening it, he found Carole’s corpse, together with that of her unborn child.

Brought up for a new trial, Roland tried to claim the death was an accident. Carole had not believed her beau was taking the responsibility that would come with their new child seriously. To prove his seriousness, the projectionist began to devote himself to restoring an old armoire in the basement of the Star Cinema where they both worked. Carole, he explained, misunderstood his project, and threatened to destroy the antique during an argument in the basement. During the struggle, she was killed.

Roland disarticulated her body, wrapped it in garbage bags, and locked it in the self-same trunk, hiding it in the basement of the theatre.

In a film noire twist, Strasbourgeois cinemaphiles blithely enjoyed such contemporary films as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Most Wanted, and Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag, for three years, never knowing that the man sweating in the booth behind them had hidden a terrible secret under their very feet. With the police closing in, he eventually moved Carole’s body his home where it was eventually discovered.

He was sentenced to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Today, he runs the Cinema Appreciation Club for his fellow inmates.


David Beeson said...

You've certainly given us a new angle on the Star, which was one of our favourite cinemas. I particularly liked the sofa outside the entrance to one of the theatres: who would sit on it, rather than just go in and secure themselves a place ready to see the film? It had all the charm and pathos of futility.

Mark Reynolds said...

I have to credit Félicie for the story. Never noticed the sofa - perhaps a place for cinema staff to relax while plotting their crimes?