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“Bluebeard” (1944) is a contemporary reinterpretation of a story by Charles Perrault in which a bride discovers the horrible truth of her new husband when she peeks into a forbidden room in their house. In the 1944 film, the Bluebeard character is Gaston Morrell, a painter and puppeteer whose murderous tendencies are kept quiet by the art dealer who gains hefty commissions on the man’s artwork.

Unfortunately, this premise is all too true-to-life. Gilles de Rais, the man many suspect to have been the real-life model for Perrault’s tale, was a powerful nobleman in the 15th Century, an age when everyday folk had little to no recourse when their rulers went rotten. Breton knight and nobleman de Rais fought alongside Joan of Arc but later was tried, confessed to and was found guilty of murdering countless young peasants—but only after he made the mistake of kidnapping a cleric from a church during a disagreement. Ironically, de Rais was responsible for the construction of a structure named The Chapel of the Holy Innocents years before his depravity came to light.

Other Bluebeard-type stories include the "The Bloody Chamber", the American tale “Pretty Polly” and the English folk tale “Mr. Fox” (not to be confused with the recent movie based on Roald Dahl’s tale about a mischievous but lovable fox). English writer Angela Carter even uses “The Bloody Chamber” as the foundation for her short story of the same name.

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Anton Tolman

Anton TolmanBehavioral scientist Anton Tolman of Utah Valley University discusses the science behind forensic psychology.


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