Monday, 13 February 2012
The Day of the Jackal 
The book by master storyteller Frederick Forsythe ranks among the most compelling and popular spy thrillers ever written in mainstream literature. Fred Zinnemann’s adaptation of the bestselling novel did considerable justice to it by being nearly as engaging and immaculate in its detailing. It was also imbued with European sensibilities, viz. stylishness, slow buildup and exquisite pacing, as opposed to the kind of ‘slam-bam’ and frenetic pacing most American thrillers are equated with. The film, like the book, has two parallel narratives – the first concerns with the preparations and the subsequent activities carried out by a mysterious and ruthless lone-wolf contract killer code-named ‘Jackal’ (played by Edward Fox) who has been hired to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle; the second deals with the frantic investigation being carried in the dark by the resourceful French police detective Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) in order to track down the nameless and faceless assassin. The way in which the identity of the Jackal is pieced together by Lebel and the British police is worth beholding, and it has been wonderfully juxtaposed with the brilliant planning and one-track agenda of the cold-blooded chameleon-like assassin with a chilling smile. On-location shoots added to the film’s visceral quotient.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Genre: Thriller/Political Thriller