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(aka 'Il Buco" or "The Hole" or "The Night Watch')

directed by Jacques Becker
France / Italy 1960

 

In a Paris prison cell, five inmates use every ounce of their tenacity and ingenuity in an elaborate attempt to tunnel to freedom. Based on the novel by Josť Giovanni, Jacques Becker’s Le Trou (The Hole) balances lyrical humanism with a tense, unshakable air of imminent danger.

***

A secular response to Bresson's A Man Escaped. No question of grace here, simply of grind and grime as four prisoners - joined and eventually betrayed by a fifth - laboriously tunnel their way to a derisory glimpse of freedom. Telling a true story, Becker maintains a low-key approach, courting reality, avoiding music in favour of natural sound, constantly stressing the sheer physicality (warders' hands laconically slicing foodstuffs in search of hidden files, prisoners' hands feverishly hacking at the unrelenting stone). Yet there is more than a touch of Bresson (even more, however, of Becker's mentor Renoir) to the close-ups which punctuate the evolving relationship between the escapees and their final discovery of a sort of forgiveness for their betrayer. Classical in its intense simplicity, this is certainly Becker's most perfectly crafted film.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide

 

 Posters

Theatrical Release: March 18th, 1960

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Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Thanks to Sebastian Pettersson for the Blu-ray Captures and Review!

 

 Box Covers

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 129  - Region 0 - NTSC IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:11:56  2:11:50,280
Video 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.87 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Disc Size: 41 239 838 720 bytes

Feature Size: 40 955 553 792 bytes

Average Bitrate: 39.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

DVD Bitrate:

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio French 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None Japanese, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• 12-page liner notes booklet with essay by Chris Fujiwara

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2001

Keep Case
Chapters: 19

Release Information:
Video: IVC (Japan)
 

1.66:1 Disc Size: 41 239 838 720 bytes

Feature Size: 40 955 553 792 bytes

Average Bitrate: 39.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Extras:
None

Chapters: 14
Blu-ray release date: January 25th, 2013

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray (November 2013): Firstly, this Blu-Ray does NOT have English subtitles. However, the transfer was made by Studio Canal so there are good chances for an American or European release.

The transfer has a high bitrate but is not perfect. Grain is always present but there are some evidences of EE and in two scenes (at least) a bit of DNR. It looks darker than the Criterion DVD which seems genuine for most of the film. Detail is not as tight as one might would've hoped for but is still very fine (the close-ups look amazing) and I doubt it'll look any sharper on this medium. The source material probably have some limitations and it certainly shows.

The audio doesn't shine as much as the picture but it still represents the film well. Not much have changed in comparison to the Criterion DVD (although the audio is lossless) but there are some depth and dynamics in certain scenes that sticks out. No extras are included in this region FREE Blu-Ray.

Le Trou is an amazing film and even though this Blu-Ray is imperfect I still think it's a big improvement over the already strong Criterion DVD. The lack of English subtitles probably makes many refrain from purchasing this edition. Fans of the film may wait for an international release but I'm very happy to have it in my collection already. After all, who would not like to own Le Trou on Blu-Ray?

Sebastian Pettersson

***

ON THE DVD: I love a good prison picture... and this is a great one. The image is fantastic - exquisitely sharp and detailed. My only gripe might be that the gray scale is a little weaker in this image than on other Criterion DVDs. Original mono sound, decent unobtrusive subtitles, no extras save a nice liner notes booklet and the lower price-point too... so I wouldn't hesitate. Great film.   

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Screen Captures

 

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2)
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Subtitle Sample

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP
2)
IVC - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 Box Covers

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 129  - Region 0 - NTSC IVC
Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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