The true story behind… the film “Les Blessures assassines”

The true story behind… the film “Les Blessures assassines”

The Murderous Wounds is a film directed by Jean-Pierre Denis, released in 2000 at the cinema. This feature film, which won a César for actress Sylvie Testud, looks back on the story of the Papin sisters.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie The Murderous Woundsthe article below reveals important elements of the plot.

They weren’t that model. Murderous Wounds, directed by Jean-Pierre Denis, released in theaters in 2022, tells the story of two sisters who work as servants to wealthy families. In 1927, they joined the home of a family of notables, in Le Mans. If at the beginning, the two sisters are seen as perfect servants, they will show a new face.

After six years spent in the service of this family, the two sisters will kill their boss and her daughter, in 1933. However, nothing will make it possible to establish a motive and to understand the motivations of the two sisters. In this film the sisters are interpreted by Sylvie Testud and Julie-Marie Parmentier. This role will also be worth the César for best female hope to the French actress Sylvie Testud.

Murderous Wounds, movie poster
Murderous Wounds, film poster © Allociné

A different face

These two killer sisters did indeed exist. In April 1926, the Lancelin couple decided to hire new servants to maintain their house located in Le Mans. That’s how they meet the Papin sisters. Christine is hired as a cook, while Léa works as a maid. The house rules are strict and the two girls will be the target of reprimands from their boss.

Among other things, they were not allowed to speak to anyone except their bosses. Twice, Léa will also be punished by Madame Lancelin for having mistakenly dropped pieces of paper from the basket and pieces of bread. However, the two sisters are happy in this house and see in Madame Lancelin, the mother they never had.

Christine and Lea Papin
Christine and Léa Papin © Wikimedia

But the face of the gentle and helpful servants will change on Thursday, February 2, 1933. That day, Christine is ironing when the iron breaks down and causes a power failure in the house. She decides to warn her boss of the problem she is having in continuing to iron, when a fight breaks out between the two women. Christine would then have told her little sister Léa to gouge out an eye from Madame Lancelin.

The two sisters then gouged out both eyes of their boss, as well as those of her 21-year-old daughter. Léa would then have recovered a knife and a hammer and the two sisters would then have attacked the two women until they died.

On returning home, the father of the Lancelin family discovers with horror the body of his wife and daughter. The two sisters, they had hidden in their bed, and immediately admit the double murder. Their trial opened on September 28, 1933 in the court of Le Mans. The challenge of this trial is to determine whether they are responsible for their actions. According to the expert psychiatrist Pierre Schutzenberger, Christine presented psychological disorders which could explain her gesture, and Léa, her little sister, suffered from the influence of her sister, which pushed her to carry out her orders.

Finally, Christine is condemned to death, and Léa has ten years of forced labor. On January 22, 1934, President Albert Lebrun finally decided to pardon Christine, condemning her to forced labor for life. She will die five months later in prison after having fallen into schizophrenia and having stopped eating.

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