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Le Cercle Rouge

Jean-Pierre Melville

Four men, including a recently-released criminal (Alain Delon) and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand), come together to execute a meticulously planned jewel heist.

“Le Cercle Rouge is visually arresting and powerful in its silence. There is not much
dialogue and the silence creates a more dramatic cinematic language as it draws more
attention to the story and the great moments of the actors’ performance. By creating a
cool, calm atmosphere with immaculate camerawork and precise editing rhythms, his
style and message move with his actors as they deliver their soulful performances.

Melville’s themes embody the spirit of honor, loyalty, and tragic destiny among
characters played by fate. These classic themes are also found in ancient Chinese and
Japanese philosophies and cultures2. I believe in this kind of romanticism. These
valuable lessons of spiritual morality draw me into his movies and make me feel like we
are in the same world. The romantic values of friendship and brotherhood expressed in
this movie are almost impossible to find today. They are another reason why Le Cercle
Rouge became a classic gangster film.” John Woo

“I have never fired a gun in my life. I learned how to hold a gun, and subsequently
taught my actors, by watching Alain Delon in the films of Jean-Pierre Melville.” John Woo

“Perfection! The word has been used so often to describe Melville’s films that it’s become
hackneyed. We’ll have to find a new, stronger, adjective. Perfection of the heist. This old
chestnut of crime movies here becomes a sequence you think you’re seeing for the first
time. Perfection of the action. We know how painstaking in his conviction and patience
he is when working out his plots and shooting scripts. Perfection of color. And, last but
not least, perfection of acting. It bears repeating: Le Cercle Rouge? A perfect circle.”
— Jacques Fluer, Paris Jour

“Why is it that this model of dark intrigue holds us spellbound? Because behind his tale
of dark deeds and brutality, Melville superbly interweaves his secret themes: solitude,
friendship, betrayal and degeneration. He uses the clash of cops and robbers to deal
with what is grandiose and murky in mankind. And if one dares use the word “tragedy,”
it’s less because of the painstaking dramatic mechanisms than because of the glimpse
we have of the lost, primitive souls of these heroes with deadpan faces.”
— François Nourissier, L’Express

“Only Melville could recreate this strange universe, of unreal images,
of misty landscapes.” — Jean Tulard, Guides des Films


  • 11/25 | 7:00PM
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