Praised for its realism and intensity, Jacques Becker’s 1960 prison break drama “Le Trou” is now bound for a pristine-looking 4K restoration, thanks to Rialto Pictures and Studio Canal. A nerve-wracking drama based on a true story, the film is adapted from the book “The Break” by ex-con José Giovanni and has been hailed as not just one of French cinema’s best films, but perhaps the best. (Lofty, we know.)
Based on a 1947 escape attempt enacted by five prisoners at France’s La Sante Prison, Becker used a slew of non-actors — including Jean Keraudy, who actually participated in the daring events the film portrays — to tell a gripping story that remains one of cinema’s most unnerving depictions of real-life drama.
The film picks up after four prisoners and pals have already put into action a plan to dig their way out of La Sante, an already complex scheme made all the more complicated by the addition of a brand new convict. While Gaspard (Marc Michel) initially sparks to the idea, things change when he learns that the main witness who testified against him has begun to walk back his claims, leaving the door open for Gaspard to potentially get out of jail without actual digging his way out. But what does that mean for his fellow prisoners and their plan?
“Le Trou” (which translates to “the hole”) boasts not just a hyper-real story, but also stunning black and white cinematography from Ghislain Cloquet, a distinct lack of musical score, and a banger of a long-take shot of the prisoners digging through the concrete floor of their cell (one that still leaves audiences both exhilarated and exhausted).
Becker tragically died just weeks after the film finished shooting, and the Renoir protegee never got to enjoy the prodigious praise heaped on the film, which bowed in March of 1960 and also screened later that year at Cannes.
The new restoration of “Le Trou” will run at New York City’s Film Forum June 28 – July 4. Check out our exclusive new trailer for the feature below.