French film firm convicted over 'Taxi' stunt death

30th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

French film giant Luc Besson's production company was found guilty of manslaughter.

Paris – French film giant Luc Besson's production company was found guilty of manslaughter on Monday over the death of a cameraman during a car chase scene in the action comedy "Taxi 2."

The Paris court of appeal fined Europacorp EUR 100,000 (USD 140,000) for its role in the death of 41-year-old Frenchman Alain Dutartre, who was hit by a car during a botched stunt for the blockbuster, shot in Paris in 1999.

Dequatre's family took the case to appeal after Besson's firm was cleared of all charges at the initial trial in 2007.

Stuntman Remy Julienne, who devised high-speed chases for six James Bond movies and the 1969 caper "The Italian Job", was initially handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence as the sole person responsible for the accident.

Julienne's jail sentence was reduced on appeal to six months suspended. His fine was also cut from EUR 13,000 to EUR 2,000, although he was ordered to pay the victim's family EUR 60,000 in damages.

During the scene, a stunt car fitted with special foils to make it briefly lift off the ground came speeding out of a tunnel and became airborne.

Intended to land in a pile of cardboard, the car sailed past its mark and hit Dutartre, who died hours later of massive head injuries.

The court of appeal ruled that EuropaCorp had put the crew under pressure to cut the duration of the shoot in a bid to cut costs.

In particular, producers turned down a quote from Julienne to carry out trials for the ill-fated car scene, which the stuntman insists would have averted the accident.

The "Taxi" series of police action movies, filled with extravagant stunts and rapid-fire banter, have been huge box office hits in France.

AFP / Expatica

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