The series of mysteries behind the ‘Strange Painting Theft’: the perpetrator is aged U70, the purpose is not for money

Released in 2020, The Duke is the last work famous director Roger Michell – who did Notting Hill (1999) – left before his death. Premiering at the Venice Film Festival, the film received a rain of praise from critics. Leading newspapers such as Guardian, Daily Telegraph all rated the film 5/5 stars, saying that this is one of the thrilling criminal works that cinema-loving audiences should not ignore.

Not only outstanding thanks to the acting stage, the bright spot of The Strange Painting Theft is also in the script when it first brought to the silver screen the most controversial painting theft in British history. Many viewers could not help but be surprised because the real-life details were cleverly reproduced on the film.

The series of mysteries behind the 'Strange Painting Theft': the U70-year-old perpetrator, the purpose is not for money - Photo 1.

The strange fate of precious paintings

Set in 1961, the film’s story revolves around the theft of Portrait of the Duke of Wellington (Portrait of the Duke of Wellington) made by old man Kempton Bunton (played by Jim Broadbent). This work is one of a trio of masterpieces by Spanish painter Francisco Goya composed in the 1800s of the 19th century.

After nearly 150 years of sitting, this work accidentally fell into the hands of an American collector. This incident cost the British government up to 140,000 pounds (equivalent to 3 billion pounds at the present time) to buy this portrait. News of the deal infuriated Mr Kempton, who thought it was a waste. He came to a bold decision to attract media attention to the government campaign through a policy of free television for the elderly in the city of Newcastle.

The series of mysteries behind the 'Strange Painting Theft': the perpetrator is aged U70, the purpose is not for money - Photo 2.

The event became the first and only theft to date in the history of the National Gallery London. Surprisingly, this 60-year-old old man was able to overcome a series of layers of protection and carry out the mission smoothly. After many years of disappearance, this painting was only returned to its “old home” when the investigating agency found the culprit and arrested Kempton Bunton.

The criminal’s family

The script The Strange Picture Theft was written by the famous British screenwriter duo Richard Bean and Clive Coleman. Both want to bring a work with high historical accuracy but also touch the audience’s emotions. To do that, they focus on exploiting the main character’s private life, helping viewers better visualize Bunton’s circumstances and motives.

The series of mysteries behind the 'Strange Painting Theft': the perpetrator is aged U70, the purpose is not for money - Photo 3.

Kempton Bunton continued to work as a taxi driver even in his advanced age. He is passionate about art and writing, even submitting scripts to the BBC. His wife, Dorothy (Helen Mirren), works as a babysitter to earn money to support her husband, while his daughter has unfortunately died from an accident long ago.

To portray Bunton, the screenwriters compiled all the articles, reports about him, as well as court records. Most of the dialogue in the film is taken from the trial record, keeping each word intact to ensure the truth. Some little-known details about the Bunton family are subtly exploited so that in the end, the audience sympathizes with rather than hates the offender.

The series of mysteries behind the 'Strange Painting Theft': the perpetrator is aged U70, the purpose is not for money - Photo 4.

Thrilling trial

If Kempton Bunton’s burglary has many interesting and unexpected elements; The trial that followed was equally suspenseful and thrilling. It was not until four years after “stealing” the picture that Kempton Bunton was officially prosecuted and stood in front of the horseshoe. However, because of a legal loophole, he was only convicted of stealing the picture frame, not the entire masterpiece.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, screenwriter Clive Coleman explained that under the law, theft is recognized when a person appropriates property with the intention of making it permanent. This is completely wrong with the main character because the old man just wants to “borrow” the picture to do good work, for the benefit of the majority of the elderly.

The series of mysteries behind the 'Strange Painting Theft': the U70-year-old perpetrator, the purpose is not for money - Photo 5.

About a third of the film’s ending time focuses on the Bunton trial. The scriptwriter duo had to study many legal documents to create tension and emphasize the importance of the case. In fact, the legislators have revised the law so that no one can take advantage of the law like the old man. However, what is surprising to many is that it took nearly 60 years for the story of Kempton Bunton to be brought to the screen.

Movie movie The Strange Painting Theft (international title: The Duke) is being shown online in Vietnam on FPT Play platforms with full subtitles. Users download FPT Play application and register for an account to enjoy many famous movies and entertainment content anytime, anywhere. For more information, please contact hotline 19006600.

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