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Le Trou (The Criterion Collection)

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Special Features

  • New digital transfer
  • New and improved subtitle translation
  • Excerpts from 1964 U.S. pressbook

Product Details

  • Actors: André Bervil, Jean Keraudy, Michel Constantin, Philippe Leroy, Raymond Meunier
  • Directors: Jacques Becker
  • Writers: Jacques Becker, Jean Aurel, José Giovanni
  • Producers: Georges Charlot, Georges Lourau, Goffredo Lombardo, Jean Mottet
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2001
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NFZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,647 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Le Trou (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Toshifumi Fujiwara on September 15, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jacques Becker's LE TROU (THE HOLE) is one of the most intense, powerful and thrilling crime movie in film history.
Men--convicts--in a prison cell plot a dynamic escape by digging a hole (hence the title) in their prison cell. This is the basic plot of it, that's all. And the dramatic arena is naturally very limited; basically everything in a confinement of a prison. The actions are also mainly limited to the act of digging.
By deliberately limiting his cinematic palette to bare-bone simplicity, Jacques Becker weaves out a complex web of human camaraderie and conflicts. You have to trust one another to commit this kind of escape, but at the same time, can you really trust these fellow inmates? All the dramatic ellements concentrate into this fundamental question about human relationship. And from there florishies a stunning, awesome drama of wild, strong men, naturally with the currents of their own vulnerabilities underneath, which quite often finds its way to burst in front of your eyes.
A superb ensemble cast including some of the finest character actors in french cinema and one man who actually experienced this story (Jean Keraudy, who introduces the film as his own story) creates an extraoridinary psychological as well as physical realism.
And the harsh, stark black&white cinematography can be easily pointed out as one of the highest achievement in attempting to create an imediate realistic experience as a cinematic imagery in film history.
In one word, this is a must see film, a masterpiece. Both an entertaining crime drama, and a true work of art.
*note: jacaues becker used to be assitant director to jean renoir in the 1930's, and appears into films such as Boudu Saved from Drowning and Grand Illusion
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on January 21, 2002
Format: DVD
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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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By TUCO H. on October 25, 2001
Format: DVD
Finally! Jacques Becker, one of the most underrated GREAT filmmakers ever, on Criterion DVD. "Le Trou" (the Hole) is a highly unconventional prison drama, a different variation on the 'honor among thieves' theme Becker used so effectively in his Rififi-Bob-le-Flambeur-inspiring-archetype gangster classic "Touchez Pas Au Grisbi."
Here you get maybe the most Zen-like of all commercial cinema films, a radical departure from what Becker had done before in its restrained rather than extravagant style: 4 guys in a cell trying to dig a hole to freedom through a wall of rock, and THAT'S IT! But wait! This is REAL CINEMA, not the friggin' 'Great Escape'! Psychological complexity revealed through the camera that doesn't lie, as in EVERYTHING that goes on in their heads, not through any over-written dialogue, but by letting the cinema do the work: realistic reactions and gestures CAPTURED IN MAXIMUM REALNESS (of the slightly ramshakle French Prison variety, of course) from actors who have fully internalized these characters into an almost Robert De Niro level of Method Acting, without, I'm sure, being trained in any 'method nonsense' that would probably have confused the hell out of them unnecessarily (not surprisingly, one of them was a former inmate himself).
Becker died tragically young right after the film was completed and was at the time married to the beautiful Algerian born French actress Francoise Fabian who later appeared most memorably in Eric Rohmer's classic "My Night At Maude's" as Maude.
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