Arts and Entertainment
An Insane Inmate With The Heart To Fight
Britain’s most violent inmate always wanted to be famous.
Charles Bronson, born Michael Petersen, was arrested when he was 19 and sentenced to seven years in prison for a post-office robbery in 1974.
This is the brief launching pad for the 2008 film Bronson, based on the real-life story of the notorious British inmate played by Tom Hardy, who is slated to play Bane in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.
The film starts with a dirty, bald and naked Bronson in the deepest darkest dungeon of a British prison. Groups of guards rush him to no avail, and Bronson just starts fighting the squad of guards—the reason he wound up in a dark isolated cell. He fights everyone and cares nothing for the rules, a habit he picked up as a kid.
He refers to prison as a “hotel room” and for no reason at all he fights guards and inmates alike until his violent behavior turns his seven-year sentence into a 30-year stint in solitary confinement.
During this time, Bronson recedes into his mind where he is the host and star of his own autobiographical one-man Broadway show, where he explains his life with dark demented humor to an imaginary faceless audience.
Transferred from asylums to maximum security prisons, the film describes Bronson’s short-lived boxing career after having met an imprisoned boxing promoter. He starts to fight prisoners and even a giant Rottweiler for money—just for the hell of it.
Hardy put on 40 pounds for the role in an effort to resemble the bulldog physique of the real Bronson, whom Hardy consulted several times in order to learn Bronson’s mannerisms, and to exploit his personality.
Bronson is a ride into the prisoner’s mind, where everything makes sense to a man who has been imprisoned his whole life. He pushes his luck and dehumanizes the prison system, but with no intention of ever holding back, Bronson finishes the film in the only place a wild animal would cause no harm—a cage.
Bronson—2008—directed by Nicolas Winding Refn—starring Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams and Luing Andrews—92 minutes