Sunday 14 October 2012

Le Trou (The Hole) [1960]

Le Trou, the final film of Jacques Becker (he died shortly after its completion), was an edge-of-the-seat, nerve-racking rendition of an actual daring attempt by five inmates to escape from the La Sante prison, and ranks among the best from that sub-genre. While most escape films emphasize on brilliant planning, its focus was more on the excruciating hard work associated with it even if one has the perfect plan. Gaspard (Marc Michel), a young man accused of trying to kill his wife and thus looking at 20 years in prison, upon being transferred to a new cell, is informed by his four cellmates, after much deliberation, that they are planning to escape. Hours of uncomprosmising hard work and a fair share of luck are required, and the five go about carrying their plan with meticulous vigour. But, unlike his four cellmates, Gaspard hasn’t been sentenced yet – he’s still awaiting his trial which hinges completely on the testimony of his wife, and this turns out to be the sole fallacy that the other four didn’t take into account while including Gaspard in their team. The degree of intricate detailing that has been depicted here, made it a worthy companion piece to Bresson’s masterful A Man Escaped, while the sketching of the five distinctly different personalities made it an engaging human story as well. Becker used a cast of mostly non-professional actors (including, in a cheeky movie, one of those actually involved in the escape attempt), and shot the film in the form of a documentary which added to the stark realism of the proceedings.

Director: Jacques Becker
Genre: Thriller/Prison Film/Escape Film/Buddy Film/Docu-Fiction
Language: French
Country: France


Sam Juliano said...

While not quite matching Bresson's film, LE TROU can be talked about in the same discussion without a doubt Shubhajit, and you done a great job framing it's artistry. It is certainly a human story as well, and therein lies it's major fascination.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Yeah, the Bresson film was one of the great masterpieces of world cinema. But, despite never being a milestone of that stature, Le Trou did manage to be a very well made film. The major similarity between the two would be the meticulous detailing displayed in both.

Sachin said...

nicely said Shubhajit. I am glad you got to see this as I am often amazed at how few people have seen this film or even heard about Jacques Becker. I also enjoyed Becker's Touchez pas au grisbi and Casque d'or.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sachin. Yeah, I guess this does remain somewhat under-watched. I'm yet to watch Becker's other films though.