Le Cercle Rouge (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Alain Delon (The Leopard, Le samouraï) plays a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee and an alcoholic ex-cop (The Wages of Fear’s Yves Montand). The unlikely trio plot a heist, against impossible odds, and then a relentless inspector and their own pasts seal their fates. Le cercle rouge, from Jean-Pierre Melville (Le samouraï, Army of Shadows), combines honorable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces to create a masterpiece of crime cinema.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches; 4.8 Ounces
- Director : Jean-Pierre Melville
- Media Format : Blu-ray, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 2 hours and 20 minutes
- Release date : April 12, 2011
- Actors : Alain Delon, Andre Bourvil, Gian Maria Volonte, Yves Montand, Paul Crauchet
- Subtitles: : English
- Studio : Criterion
- ASIN : B004JOBATI
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #141,757 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In Melville's Le Cercle Rouge, he initiates the film with a made up Buddhist saying stating that all men who are destined to meet will meet, which also refers to the films title. The `Buddhist saying' plants a seed in the audience's mind, which will have great consequence for the film's characters as they cannot escape their destiny. The saying also brings a philosophical debate in regards to existentialism through a band of criminals and a police force. Two of the characters whose future seems to be linked are Corey (Alain Delon) and Vogel (Gian Maria Volonté), both criminals. Corey is freshly released after having had served time in prison and he does not waste time as he gets back into his previous ruts as he robs an old associate and buys a car. The other character, Vogel, is transported handcuffed as he is approaching the prison where about to serve time, but he succeeds in escaping and manages to avoid the police by hiding in the trunk of Corey's car. Thus, the two men's fates to meet is sealed.
Corey drives out into a secluded area of the woods where he asks Vogel to exit the trunk as he steps back from the car. Corey is also aware of a gun that was hidden in the trunk, which might have been recovered by his passenger. When Vogel steps out there is a moment of silence as the two men study each other's appearances and actions, as a distrusting pet would smell a stranger. This moment portrays the distrustful code in which criminals coexist and the meaning in which they find a purpose in life. In essence, the moment represents the red circle that has been connected as these two men were meant to meet. This leads both men to Paris where they begin to plan a jewel heist, which requires further help from a team of professionals in the field.
The police are in full force searching for the escaped Vogel that eluded Police Captain Mattei (Bourvil). A rather upset Mattei is determined to recover Vogel as he has a strong sense of purpose in life, which is now spiced up since Vogel escaped. Fatigued Mattei returns to his small apartment where he feeds his cats and tries recover physically and emotionally as he recognizes the severity of having lost Vogel under his watch. The return to the apartment displays Mattei's purpose as it illustrates Mattei's personality through his actions and the mise-en-scene, which brilliantly depicts his values.
Melville diffuses the drawn line between the criminal element and the law enforcement as he depicts a symbiotic like atmosphere between the two. In addition, the point that there is an overlapping between the two worlds comes across even more strongly through a dialogue between the Police Chief and Mattei. In the conversation, the Police Chief says, "And don't forget: All guilty." Mattei asks, "Even policemen?" The police chief responds, "All men, Mr. Mattei." This cynical perspective of mankind brings a humane side to people, as all people will make mistakes throughout life as Mattei did when he lost Vogel.
Le Cercle Rouge is a string of awesome scenes that is tied together into a brilliant cinematic experience. The star-studded (Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volonté, and Yves Montand) cast does not become the wheel for the story's success, but the cinematic narration under Melville's direction does. The direction exhibits meticulous orientation of details as the actions of the characters, the script, the mise-en-scene, the camerawork, and the sound comes together into marvelous concoction of philosophical insights, suspense, and fate.
(c)1970. In color, English sub-titles. 140 Min.
Top reviews from other countries
As with most Studio Canal releases, the print quality and sound are of a very high standard. This is the only distributor to have released even a minimally representative selection of Alain Delon's films in subtitled versions in the UK and Le Cercle Rouge can be bought individually or as part of a Jean-Pierre Melville boxset. Well worth buying either or both.
It is to be hoped that Studio Canal will continue to release more Delon films. Many titles are available direct from France, of course, but without English subtitles.
Some Delon films are as yet unavailable anywhere on DVD which is difficult to understand given his longstanding international popularity. Let's hope Studio Canal releases these and other titles in the UK.
Le Cercle Rouge ranks among Melville's best work, this copy is excellent, it deserves five stars.
A gangster film (which Melville was so good at) centred around a robbery near the Ritz in Paris.
Superbly acted of course by Delon, Montand, Gian Maria Volonte, with the usually comic actor Bourvil, here playing the police inspector very seriously and convincingly.
This was made in 1970 and it easy to see the influence that these hard-edged French films have had on subsequent American films, but the
Americans will always try for their "happy ending".
Melville's films have a certain 'slow' tempo: when it's getting suspenseful the tempo is slowed down so that all movements are followed, instead of speeding up with short cuts which can be said to be more conventional. This is explained in the excellent commentary track with Ginette Vincendeau, extra material which makes this DVD well worth buying.
Some people react negatively to the contemplative tempo, and the fact that there is not much dialogue or real action/violence. Personally I think it is a welcome contrast to other movies. Also, everything is not as clear or explained as is the norm: for example we never learn why Corey is in jail as the movie begins, or why Vogel is hunted by a veritable army of cops. Instead the viewer has to interpret a little bit more why the characters do what they do and so on. The mood (and colors) in the film are muted and may not be to everyone's taste either. That said, this is a movie I have watched two times and will watch again.
The excellent commentary by Vincendeau together with the nice transfer make me want to recommend this Bfi DVD to anyone interested in cinema.