MovieChat Forums > Le Cercle RougeĀ (1970) Discussion > One shot of the inspector from the train

One shot of the inspector from the train


I just saw this film today as part of a series of tribute screenings of almost all of Melville's work. This film is just as amazing as any other. One shot impresses me particularly was at the beginning of the film, when we see a mid shot of Commissaire Mattei standing at the window inside the train compartment, then the camera starts to pull out further and further until we see the whole train moving across the field. the whole thing seems like one continuous shot, the camera movement and the effect are just amazing. i kept thinking it could only be done from a helicopter, dunno what kind of filming skills they had then.

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The shot in question on the train is not a single shot but there is a cut. At the beginning we see Commissaire Mattei at the window of a staticic train, perhaps a little camera movement,and then a quick camera pull back. It may even have been a set of a train side and train window shot on stage. It cuts to a helicopter shot of a real train with a compartment lit as the set is lit, and the camera onboard the helicopter pulls back and pans over the entire train and the countryside. I should add, it isn't a normal cut, but the 'A' side cuts to black, and then a quick fade-in is used to the 'b' side. Like an eye blink. There may have been some optical manipulation to match the windows and camera pull backs. It was effective certainly, but by adding the cut it made it manageable. Without a cut it would have been a very complex visual effect indeed composited on an optical printer or animation stand, probably more expensive and perhaps less effective. The process work of men driving in cars throughout the movie is not very convincing, but is on a par with most other movies of it's time. Henri Decae was a masterful DP, but even he couldn't make those process screen shots look real. Recently, I saw THE LOVERS, which he shot for Louis Malle, a gorgeous Black and White film, but the process shots of driving in autos weren't great. At the time we in the audience were used to accepting those shots in our filmic consciousness as "believable," though digital compositing has probably improved these types of shots with travelling matte work, tracking background programs, lighting programs to help perfect the look, even better color matching possibilites. Sometimes however it still looks phony. Remember all the bad process shots in Hitchcock movies, and somehow we mention those movies as embodying great technique. I agree though, the shot you mentioned was lovely and important.

pardon us our troubled quietnesses.

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Brotherdeacon is right, there is a cut, but I still consider it's a great shot, specially for its time. I confess that I was impressed too, so I had to see this shot twice for discovering the cut. By the way, very cool movie with great actors (Delon, Bourvil, Montad y Volonte)in their best moment.

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That is one of the most famous (un)zoom telephoto shots in film history. We miss the cut because the edit is so cleverly done -- only with home video tape or DVD can we see this.

Consider what this looked like to theater audience in 1970. Blink, and you miss the cut. (Compare with the silly train/helicopter model in Un Flic.)

Le Cercle Rouge is Melville at his best.

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