Date(s) - 25/09/2018
7:00 pm - 8:45 pm
Ciné Club of Alliance Française Hyderabad brings the French film Le Samouraï, a 1967 neo-noircrime filmwritten and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, on September 25th Tuesday at It stars Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, and François Périer.
In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean‑Pierre Melville, Le samouraï is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture—with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.
An empty room. No, not empty. In the shadows we can barely see a man on the bed. He lights a cigarette, and smoke coils up toward a wisp of light from the window. After a time the man gets up, fully dressed, and moves to a hat stand near the door. He puts on his fedora, adjusting the brim with delicate precision, and goes out into the street.
Like a painter or a musician, a filmmaker can suggest complete mastery with just a few strokes. Jean-Pierre Melville involves us in the spell of “Le Samourai” (1967) before a word is spoken. He does it with light: a cold light, like dawn on an ugly day. And color: grays and blues. And actions that speak in place of words.
“There is no solitude greater than a samurai’s,” says a quotation at the beginning of the film. “Unless perhaps it is that of a tiger in the jungle.” The quotation is attributed to “The Book of Bushido,” which is a creation of Melville’s. The quotation and the whole pose of the Costello character are meant to suggest a man who operates according to a rigid code. But a samurai did not accept commissions to kill merely for money: honor and ethics were involved.
The man hot-wires a car, and drives it down a forlorn street to a garage where the door gapes open. He wheels it inside. A mechanic is waiting, who changes the license plates. The driver waits and smokes. The mechanic opens a drawer and hands him papers. The driver extends his hand. For a handshake? No, for a gun. He pockets it. He hands the mechanic cash. Then he drives away. Not a word is spoken.
The man, named Jef Costello, is played by Alain Delon, the tough pretty boy of French movies. He was 32 when this movie was made, an actor so improbably handsome that his best strategy for dealing with his looks was to use a poker face. He seems utterly unaware here of his appearance; at times he seems to be playing himself in a dream. A “beautiful destructive angel of the dark street,” film critic David Thomson called him.
Costello is a killer for hire. The movie follows him with meticulous attention to detail while he establishes an alibi, kills a nightclub owner, survives a police lineup, is betrayed by those who hired him, and becomes the subject of a police manhunt that involves a cat-and-mouse chase through the Paris Metro. All the while he barely betrays an emotion.
Two women help supply his alibis. A woman named Jane loves him, we guess, although she has a rich lover and Jef knows it. (She is played by Nathalie Delon, his real-life wife.) The other woman, a black musician named Valerie (Caty Rosier) who plays the piano in the nightclub, lies at the lineup and says she has never seen him. But she knows she has. Is she lying to help him? Or because she knows the men who hired him, and knows they do not want him caught?
Film: Le Samouraï
Director : Jean-Pierre Melville
First Release : 1967
Genre : Crime Thriller
Duration : 1h 45
Production : FRANCE
Language : French with English subtitles
Date: Tuesday 25th September, 7pm
Location: AF Auditorium
Entry: Free and open to all
The screening will be followed by a debate to exchange the points of view and discuss topics related to the film.