There seems to be a lot to be said for prison films, at least as far as the List is concerned. There’s quite a few on here, and one would think you’d get tired of them after a while, but each one is unique in its own way, and offers a different experience to the table. No so with Le Trou, or The Hole; pretty much everything it has to offer can be found in other films, so it begs the question why this is on the list if it’s such a hodgepodge of other offerings. Well, I’ll just say; by the time the film had finished, I had been convinced.
Right off the bat, there’s a lot, a LOT, of comparison with A Man Escaped. Really, this film is right in the middle between A Man Escaped and La Grande Illusion. On that barometer, it’s probably closer to the former, but without the solitary “lone man” philosophy of that film, and with the group dynamic of the latter instead. Most of the initial suspense, at least for me, seemed to be in what exactly the men have concocted as their escape plan, which isn’t made clear until pretty much when the men attempt it. That was another oddity; there was no careful planning, or arrival of characters who instigate the plan and then we spend half the running time with them as they get it ready; nope, once our viewer proxy is introduced and accepted into the gang, we go right into it, and what “it” is is work. Lots and lots of work. This shows their escape attempt from beginning to end, in complete detail (though there is some bits cut out when they’re grinding away at a wall in the sewer), and just like A Man Escaped, it couldn’t be more entrancing. I didn’t look at the clock until well over an hour had gone by, and even then it wasn’t because I’d grown bored; I was just curious how much time had passed of me watching these guys toil night after night in their attempt to get free.
I went into this expecting something very similar to A Man Escaped, with a little bit of Grand Illusion and The Great Escape tossed in, and I wasn’t too far off the mark. This is an exacting film, meticulous in detail, and for some strange reason, it couldn’t be more rewarding. Now, of course, if you’re not one for very detailed films, or don’t have the patience to sit through guys painstakingly work their way through the bowels of the prison, this will likely not be your cup of tea. All I can say is, I didn’t think too much of this one going in, and was pleasantly surprised at what I got. This is certainly worth a chance on your part as well.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10