Le Cercle Rouge Film Critique Essays

Pays : France / Italie

Réalisateur : Jean-Pierre Melville

Scénario : Jean-Pierre Melville

Avec : Alain Delon, André Bourvil, Yves Montand, Gian Maria Volonte, François Périer...

Musique : Éric Demarsan

Durée : 2h20

Genre : Policier / Braquage

Format : couleurs, 1:85

Sortie en salles : 1er octobre 1970

Bande annonce visible ici

Le Cercle Rouge, c'est quelque part l’œuvre testamentaire de Jean-Pierre Melville, son film le plus personnel, le plus travaillé et le plus pessimiste, livrant ainsi un immense moment de cinéma. De prime abord populaire de par son budget conséquent et son casting en or massif, le film se dévoile rapidement comme son total contraire, quelque chose d'apocalyptique où les protagonistes ne sont que des figures froides, sans réel passé ni avenir, piégés dans leur statut (criminels, fugitif, policiers, indic) avec les codes qui vont avec, évoluant dans un environnement visuellement fantomatique. Les limites sont floues entre le bon et le mal, au sein ou en dehors de la loi, tout n'étant qu'un jeu d'échec où certains pions sont destinés à entrer dans le fameux "cercle rouge" de Rama Krishna, ici sanguinolent et immoral. Le personnage le plus passionnant est celui qui se pose au milieu de cette limite, celui d'Yves Montand, ancien flic converti en tireur unique, condamné aux délires alcooliques lorsqu'il s'éloigne de ce rôle - voir l'hallucinante séquence de ses visions dans le "placard". Le truand mystérieux qu'incarne Delon, ou encore le flic contraint à briser ses codes joué par le surprenant Bourvil, sont également des protagonistes saisissants qui forment un tout dans un scénario formidablement ficelé. Enchaînant les répliques cultes et un sens du silence absolument magistral, Melville fonde un récit crépusculaire saisissant, appuyé par une mise en scène chirurgicale de froideur et de contemplation. Point d'orgue de cette ambition : la fantastique séquence de braquage d'une bijouterie, vingt minutes de silence total oùles codes des personnages se frottent aux sens du spectateur... Terriblement pessimiste et fataliste, Le Cercle Rouge est un chef d’œuvrequi traverse les années sans prendre une ride, sublimé par une réalisation sublime, un rythme unique et un casting quatre étoiles. Le sumum du polar et du cinéma français en général.


ses personnages mystérieux et torturés, entre le bien et le mal

une mise en scène froide, fantomatique, à couper le souffle

la séquence du braquage, grand et silencieux moment de cinéma


rien à signaler, ne serait-ce que quelques touches musicales dispensables dans la froideur globale

"The Red Circle" redirects here. For the Sherlock Holmes story, see The Adventure of the Red Circle. For the 1915 film serial, see The Red Circle (serial).

Le Cercle Rouge (French pronunciation: ​[lə sɛʁkl ʁuʒ], "The Red Circle") is a 1970 Franco-Italiancrime film set mostly in Paris. It was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and stars Alain Delon, Andre Bourvil, Gian Maria Volontè and Yves Montand. It is known for its climactic heist sequence which is about half an hour in length and without any dialogue.

The film's title means "The Red Circle" and refers to the film's epigraph which translates as

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: "When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle."

Melville made up the quote,[2] just as he did with the epigraph in Le Samouraï.


In Marseille, a prisoner named Corey is released early for good behaviour. A warder tips him off about a prestigious jewellery shop he could rob in Paris. He goes to the house of Rico, an associate of his with whom his former girlfriend now lives, where he robs Rico of his money and gun. Then he goes to a billiard hall, where two of Rico's men find him. After killing one and taking his gun, Corey buys a large car and, hiding the guns in the boot, starts for Paris. On the way, he stops at a roadside grill to eat.

The same morning another prisoner, Vogel, who is being taken on a train from Marseille to Paris by the policeman Mattei, escapes in open country. Mattei orders roadblocks to be set, and returns to face his superiors. Vogel comes upon the roadside grill and hides in the boot of Corey's car. Realising someone is in the boot, with his guns, Corey drives into an open field and orders Vogel to get out. After a tense confrontation, the two decide to co-operate. Shortly after, with Vogel back in the boot, a car with two more of Rico's men forces Corey off the road. They take his money and are about to kill him when Vogel, emerging from the boot, shoots both dead.

Corey takes Vogel to his empty flat in Paris and starts to plan the robbery. For this he needs a marksman, to disable the security system by a single rifle shot, and a fence to buy the goods. At the same time, Mattei is planning how to locate the murderer of Rico's men and to recapture Vogel. He puts pressure on Santi, a night club owner who knows most of the underworld, to find them.

Corey recruits Jansen, an alcoholic ex-policeman and a crack shot, together with a fence, and successfully empties the shop one night. However, his fence refuses to take the goods, having been warned off by Rico, and suggests that Corey asks Santi for a lead. Santi tips off Mattei, who poses as a fence and asks Corey to bring the goods to a country house. Corey does so, taking Jansen as backup and leaving Vogel at his apartment with the rose he had earlier received from a waitress at Santi's. After Corey arrives at the country house, Vogel appears from nowhere and tells Corey to run with the jewels, acting on his suspicion that Corey is not safe with this new fence. All three criminals try to flee on foot but are shot dead by the police.



Box Office[edit]

It was the fifth most popular film of the year in France.[3]


Vincent Canby, in a 1993 review of a 99-minute version dubbed into English, said the film "may baffle anyone coming upon him [that is, Melville] for the first time"; according to Canby:[4]

Though severely cut, The Red Circle doesn't exactly sweep along. It has a deliberate pace as Melville sets up the story of three chance acquaintances who plan and carry out the sacking of an elegant, supposedly impregnable jewelry store...Understatement is the method of the film, from Melville's pared-down screenplay to the performances by the three trenchcoated principals, even to the muted photography by Henri Decaë, which is in color but has the chilly effect of black and white.

Peter Bradshaw, in a 2003 review of a 102-minute reissue, called the film a "treat" and noted "Melville blends the Chandleresque world of his own devising with gritty French reality. With its taut silent robbery sequence, his movie gestures backwards to Rififi, and with Montand's specially modified bullets it anticipates Frederick Forsyth's Day of the Jackal and the contemporary techno-thriller."[5]

Hong Kong director John Woo wrote an essay for the Criterion DVD of Le Cercle Rouge arguing the film's merits.[6] When the film was given a theatrical re-release, Woo was given a "presenter" credit.

Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four in his 2003 review.[7]


External links[edit]


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