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Le Trou (The Hole) (Criterion Collection)

André Bervil , Jean Keraudy , Jacques Becker    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 74.15
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Product Description

Product Description

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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Not to be Missed Jan. 10 2004
When I was working in the suburbs south of Paris I would drive past the Prison de la Santé on my way out of the city, never caring much about what went on inside. Then I saw this film.
Jacques Becker's film tells the story of five men who attempt an escape from the Santé Prison. The men dig their way through the cell floor until they break through a ceiling of the Paris sewer system through which they can reach freedom. The main character is a young man from the upper class who is sentenced to prison after his wife falsely accuses him of assault and who arrives in the cell just as the escape is being planned. He is invited by his cellmates to join the escape; they fear that otherwise he will give them away. And then things begin to happen. I won't tell anymore, because I don't want to give the story away, but trust me, the film will grab your attention very quickly, and from then on you will be on the edge of your seat.
This film came at a turning point in French cinema. It opened in Paris on Friday, March 18, 1960, only two days after the opening of "Breathless," Jean-Luc Godard's great first feature film (in which Becker, idolized by the critics at the Cahiers de Cinema who became the core directors of the New Wave, even makes a brief cameo appearance). Like the early films of the French New Wave "Le Trou" made a major break with French films of the past. The sets are austere in the extreme, the actors were all unknown, and the film was about people down in their luck. The film is intense, exciting, full of human emotion, and with great dialogue. This is the first great French film noir. Becker might have become one of the pillars of the French New Wave.
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A wonderful film, made my christmas. is a bit hard to add anything that hasn't been said in these eloquent reviews already but this is the most perfect film about camaraderie ever made. realistic is an over used word but when the guard cuts through the prisoner's sausages with a knife that has just been used to cut soap it gives one a frisson of the restrictions prison puts on a human being, when the four prisoner's are sitting eating said sausage in their cell it feels like you are sitting right next to them. When one character talks about his wife another asks him if she squeezed his blackheads after sex, its these details that take this hypnotic escape drama to another level, for the mechanics of the film the other reviews are more informative, i do not have enough time to do them justice here.
there is one breathtakingly surreal shot towards the climax of this film, gave me a thrill like all great suspense pictures and its effect is heightened by the fact that the camera until this point has been relentlessly trained on the 4 characters for the entire movie, it comes like a bolt from the blue.
Brilliant movie, deserves to be ranked with Bresson's a man escaped, i can't think of any english language escape films that come close to these two. And of the two the more accesible is this one
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5.0 out of 5 stars A GREATER ESCAPE Jan. 21 2002
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.
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By A Customer
I really had (unfounded) doubts going into this DVD / film. I'm not sure why, perhaps because I've seen quite a few prison-escape type films (Alcatraz, The Rock, Stalag 17, The Great Escape, The Grand Illusion, The Shawshank Redemption) so I really didn't think there could be another, even though it came before most of the ones I mentioned, that could be that good. Well, I was happily surprised! This film is fantastic. Keep in mind that the director is very deliberate with the way he films scenes in that we see much more, the camera stays on the action much longer, than you might be used to. But this is a huge part of the overall effect and I think it works beautifully. I don't know about others but I really got a sense of claustrophobia while watching this film as so much of it is filmed "inside". I wish I could say more about it but I'm afraid of giving anything away. If you found yourself liking those other films I mentioned and you don't mind French dialog (perhaps you can play a dubbing track, can't recall) and black and white films, by all means check this one out - a bonafide cinematic classic!
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