Saturday, December 15, 2018


Le Trou (planning)

Le Trou (The Hole) is Jacques Becker's film about a prison break. And it is not your standard prison break movie. There is no dramatic soundtrack played in the background as the men make their tunnels. There isn't an all star-cast on hand (think The Great Escape) to give us easy character types to hang our hat on to root for. There is also the interesting way Becker films the escape. What we see is the minutiae of the enterprise. There is a scene where we see all of the prisoners taking turns digging and moving away rubble. We are used to seeing a scene like this for maybe a quick shot or two and we move on. In Le Trou, this scene goes on...and on... Aren't they going to cut to another scene, soon? I said to myself. We then see the entire path to the prisoner's escape. And if you are looking for a drama with comic relief, I suggest looking elsewhere.  If you are looking for any female characters (there is one for a few minutes), I suggest looking elsewhere.

So what is my verdict of this enterprise?

First, here is an excerpt from Bosley Crowther's 1964 New York Times review of the film: "The task of hacking through the concrete floor is not a passing effort that is told with a quick few shots and a few dissolves. It is made into a tremendous labor of many minutes of hacking and scooping out debris while one of the men watches for the guards and all exhaust themselves completely before the whole is broken through."

Le Trou (timing)

My verdict is that I pretty much agree completely (a rarity) with Crowther's very positive review of the film. I really felt the prisoners exhaustion and was right down there in the hole with them. I was also there on the route they made for escape. (Am I starting to sound like Tom Joad?) The whole thing built slowly in much the same way the inmates in the film slowly give out information and learn to trust their new cellmate. It's a powerful film and would rate very highly on my favorite film list.

Sadly, Becker died shortly before the film was released in 1960.

Le Trou (digging...lots of digging)


  1. Yeah, it is up there with the best prison break movies. There is a subdued tension to it that both makes it feel real and made me uncertain where it would. Nothing is black and white but complex. A truly interesting movie to watch.