Based on a true story, "LE TROU" is a 42 year old French thriller that is little known in the U.S. but is being (re)discovered by videophiles as a tense, sweat-inducing masterpiece. The plot is amazingly simple: Five guys in a prison cell awaiting trial, plot an escape by digging a hole ("le trou") into the Parisian sewers. The perfect black and white cinematography, the ultra minimalist plot, confined setting and shifting character relationships make this a kind of Zen noir meditation on the primal, universal, desire to be Free. Director Jacques Becker died shortly after this film was completed, and this is a fitting epitaph to a truncated prize-winning career. The film opens with a statement that removes all obstacles to suspending disbelief. Jean Keraudy, one of the real life participants of the events depicted in the movie, and an actor in the movie, says, "My Friend Jacques Becker recreated a true story in all its detail. My story. It took place in 1947 at the Santé prison." The thing that intrigued Becker was the ingenuity of the scheme and the courage of the undertaking. Three members of the original escape served as consultants and Keraudy himself plays the character Roland in the film. The suspense never lets up as we participate with these desperate, ingenious, meticulous, men as a collective force seeking freedom. There's a feeling of real time and no music score to enhance or detract. The DVD has no significant extras. The widescreen transfer is clean and sharp and the sound is crisp. It's in French with optional, easy to read subtitles and there's a six page booklet with two interesting essays. Thanks to Criterion, this great film has been plucked from obscurity, beautifully mastered, and is now finding the appreciative audience it deserves. Don't miss it.