In a Paris prison cell, five inmates use every ounce of their tenacity and ingenuity in an elaborate attempt to tunnel to freedom. Based on the novel by José Giovanni, Jacques Becker’s Le trou (The Hole) balances lyrical humanism with a tense, unshakable air of imminent danger.
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This film often gets compared with Bresson's 'A Man Escaped' and the comparison is warranted. Both films are extremely focused, minimalistic, and free of any prison melodrama. However, I prefer 'Le Trou' simply because I found the story more engaging and was absolutely floored by the ending. It's certainly an unforgettable film that has somehow been forgotten.
Five men propose themselves to start one of the most demanding and yearning tasks for any person in their condition: a flawless prison break.
Jacques Becker's premature swansong is a riveting story of amazing simplicity and precision.
The suspense displayed is unbearably tense and involving.
An overlooked gem embedded by hope and camaraderie, with topnotch direction and performances.
Grisbi interested me, this seals it. Jacques Becker is as firmly in my canon as more well-known French directors of his time like Melville. This really is an exercise in slow burn, like Neal says below. And that shot towards the end where all the guards huddle together is one of the greatest shot compositions ever committed to film!
Excellent movie for sure. For the curious ones, let's note the performance of Catherine Spaak, who was 15 years old then, in the only feminine role of the film. Dear Catherine will later star in a substantial number of Italian and French productions such as Dario Argento's Cat o' Nine Tails or Pasquale Festa Campanile's the Libertine. Highly recommended.