No, I am not trying to eliminate all French films from the 1001 list. I just want to make sure that for every Godard film that I don’t get there are many films by other French directors that I enjoy. With Le Trou all I can say is: mission accomplished.
As someone who has still not seen apparent Christmas classic The Great Escape I have started to rack up some pretty great prison escape movies. I mean, cards on the table, I still prefer La Grande Illusion to Le Trou but it is pretty damned close.
We start the film being told that what we are about to see is based on a true story… by one of the former inmates of La Santé who worked on this film as an actor and consultant to help keep the film accurate. I don’t usually like it when films do this, but for a film like Le Trou it actually helped me get into this film further.
You see, the entire film takes place over a few days as a group of five inmates start tunnelling their way out of the prison. You’d think that repeated shots of these men digging through floors and walls would be dull, but there is something almost hypnotic about their determination and their ingenuity.
Through all of this you start rooting for the inmates… but now that I write this I do wonder if we really should be. All of them are facing 10+ year sentences and the prison appears to be fairly decent by the standard of the time. Sure they chop up your care packages so your rice pudding ends up tasting of soap, but this is before X-ray machines. Also, how easy would it be to stick a flick-knife in a salami?
Still, the tension and the suspicion is very much present in this film as, at any point, these men could be caught. They’re being pretty brazen at points with their loud banging and sticking a mirrored toothbrush out as a periscope. So every little victory and every near miss is monumental.
I have been putting off seeing this film for a while and I REALLY do not know why. It’s a great film and helps make up for Masculin Feminin. I did not appreciate that one.