Archive of films Red Circle / Le cercle rouge

France / Italy
1970, 140 min

Section: Tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville
Year: 2012

Alain Delon, André Bourvil, and Yves Montand meet up on either side of the law as highly trained professionals who always get what they’re after. Another of Melville’s in-depth depictions of a precisely planned crime, the movie takes on the dimension of a psychological study of three different lives – a lovelorn alcoholic, a cynic, and an obsessive maniac. The last of three color films shot within the bounds of a black-and-white aesthetic.


The central plotline involves a perfect crime that the director first wanted to bring to the screen in 1950. Although set in Paris, Melville’s original screenplay structurally corresponds to a Western. Suspense and expectation envelop the film from the get-go as preparations are made for a grand heist. The lives of the three protagonists converge for their common goal. While the lead-in presents an escape scene, creating an impression that it has played out in real time, things gradually speed up, with the action alternating more frequently. Evidence that the film involves an actual circle comes in the final scene, which attempts to evoke the same documentary-like impression and, therefore, a credible depiction of reality. Chance is another important element, bringing together escaped convict Vogel, released convict Corey, and ex-police sharpshooter Jansen. The scene of the robbery itself is implemented like a surgical procedure in the bowels of a jewelry store. Thanks to their clothing and masks, the protagonists transform into mere black silhouettes, and the viewer isn’t distracted by "inappropriate facial expressions.” More than ever before, we appreciate the director’s mastery in controlling the rhythm of his films, using it to manipulate us, while, at the same time, it allows us to get unusually close to his characters. In the end, isn’t the commission of the robbery just a vivid documentary sequence that presents a particular craft in all its details?


Tamasa Distribution
5 rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris
Tel: +33 143 590 101
E-mail: [email protected]

Institut français
8-14 Rue de Capitaine Scott, 750 15, Paris
Tel: +33 153 698 300
Fax: +33 153 698 300
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Screenplay: Jean-Pierre Melville
Dir. of Photography: Henri Decaë
Music: Eric De Marsan
Editor: Marie-Sophie Dubos, Jean-Pierre Melville
Producer: Robert Dorfmann
Production: Euro International Film
Cast: Alain Delon, Bourvil, Gian Maria Volonté, Yves Montand, Paul Crauchet
Contact: Tamasa Distribution, Institut français

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