Tittle: Le Cercle Rouge
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Release Year: 20 October 1970
The button of the jewellery store’s security system has JPM, the director’s initials, on it.
The heist scene lasts 25 minutes, with no word being spoken.
Runtime: 140 min
There is something very enjoyable about a good heist film .This a classic in the genre and a incredible well done one at that .The film follows Corey played by Alain Delon. While he is in prison he is told about a heist opportunity by a prison guard. The story then cuts a group of mysterious men as they race through the street .The men are detectives moving a suspect the suspect they are transporting escapes the escapee called Vogel is played by Gian Maria Volontè and the police officer hunting him called Le Commissaire Mattei is played by Bourvil apparently a famous musician and comic in his last screen role. The two men meet then meet one on the run and the other fresh out of prison they recruit Jansen an expert marksman played by Yves Montand to complete their crew for the heist. I don’t want to give too much away about the film this one especially if you are a fan of cinema this is a must watch.
The whole concept of the film along with the title is a kind of fated meeting .That when people are destined to meet they will .And the characters in the film are very much like that and you get a sense of fate from their meetings. There is a title card that reads:
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.”
This is a masterful film from the cutting to the shooting. There are numerous scenes of silence when we observe the minute actions of a character in a scene .and it is enthralling from casting bullets to unlocking cuff the small well timed scenes really draw you in. The camera movement is masterful as well there is a pull-out from the train to a helicopter shot that is fantastic and a real technical achievement. There is less flashy but functional use of the camera that is some of the best I have seen .One scene in the office of the head internal affairs investigator the camera moves fluidly from a single to a wide to a two shot. This subtle sequence pushes the scene along and tells the story very visually.
The film has a laconic and kind of a feeling of sadness to it. The main characters ooze cool and confidence and everyone is dressed as if it was a 1950’s detective film trench coats and hats feature prominently throughout. This is another film that shows how the French could take ideas and stylistic choices from American cinema and give them their own unique take on the subject.
This is Melville’s biggest success at the box office and the second last before he died of a heart attack. If you have never heard of him or this film you are in for a real threat the 25 minute heist film done with only the sounds of the environment is pure cinema .And of course it draws comparisons to the heist in Rififi which is one of Melville’s favourite film.
If you have a list of classic films that you have to watch than this one have to go to the top of the list this film is a master class in cinema