Trou, Le

Director: Jacques Becker
Year Released: 1960
Rating: 3.5

French Escape from Alcatraz but with a greater focus on group dynamics. Shows - in meticulous detail - an attempted prison escape by a group of men with nothing much to lose, and how they quickly accept a new inmate forced to live with them (who, to complicate things, has a complicated past of his own). Becker spends a lot of time on the men tunneling and digging over and over - while the effect is disconcerting at first after a bit you want things to move on - but that is a minor quibble considering all the picture's high points. Most notable is Becker's use of claustrophobic settings (the camera is rarely in the 'open,' always in tunnels or in the cramped cell), lack of women (the one time a female appears it's unsettling, and since we only see her through a cage-screen she's 'untouchable' and ethereal) and absence of music; in fact, one of the most startling moments in the cinema occurs at the conclusion, and in absolute silence.