Films of Jean-Pierre-Melville:
1 year ago
This concomitant sense of seeing and hearing things from both within and outside character is one of the most fascinating facets of Melville’s style. In the process, Melville's films constantly throw up new perspectives, cross-cutting between multiple points of view. Thus, his films don't exclude the optical point of view of characters but they don't privilege it either.With the film’s spectacular narrative reversals coupled with Melville’s mise en scène, could we say that this is film noir classic? Unfortunately, not this time – these would come later with Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle Rouge (1970). There are some weaknesses to Le Doulos that hold it back. For one thing, all of the characters are essentially despicable murderers. The viewer is not motivated to care about any of them and/or have a concern for what happens to them. In addition, the deliberate attempts to subvert the viewer’s understanding are far too conspicuous. There are three red herrings in the film that are intentionally posed in order to confuse the viewer: (1) when Silien calls police inspector Salignari after conversing with Maurice, (2) when he beats and ties up Thérèse, and (3) when he digs up the jewels outside of Gilbert’s apartment. All of these scenes have the uncomfortable air of artificiality. Of less concern, but still a problem is the character of Jean. Jean initially seems to be an important figure, and yet he disappears for most of the film, only to turn up again near the end. His disappearance would not be significant in real life, but in the tight scenarios of a film noir, it is noticed. Finally, there is the problem of casting Jean-Paul Belmondo as Silien. The Silien character is supposed to be a super-smooth string puller who gets his way with women, the police, and fellow criminals by spinning yarns. But Belmondo, already a young star from films like À Bout de Souffle (Breathless, 1960) and Une Femme est une Femme (A Woman is a Woman, 1961), is too good-natured. His boyish impishness is charming, but doesn’t fit the role of the cold, tough-as-nails Silien. Much better is the performance of Serge Reggiani, as Maurice. His dour, tense expression and body language prefigures a sense of impending trouble – the perfect image of a film noir character.
– Adrian Danks, Senses of Cinema
“Rumi with his tact and sharp mind gave all he had to Shams-e-Tabrizi and told him to burn it. Was Shams getting something in return? As for Rumi, he always bet on love and expected nothing in return.”It is perhaps reflecting on this act of Rumi's that he later burns his own books and writings. Even when Youssef returns from Paris with his sight restored and is distracted by his uncle’s vivacious sister-in-law, Pari, there is still a connection with his interests in Sufi poetry. Pari has given him her student thesis on Sufi poetry to review, and later he appears to be reading and highlighting this thesis (the book he is reading at this time has the same red binding as the thesis that Pari had earlier handed to Youssef’s wife, Roya). He is inspired by a commingling of both her comments about Sufi poetry and her exuberant womanliness.
The spirit is like an ant, and the body like a grain of wheatHere, the ant represents the vital spirit that animates all of reality, and it is that aspect to which we must direct our awareness, not just to the cold, lifeless objects in the world. It is the spirits (the ants) that collectively make the world move, that animate it, and we should focus our consciousness on that level of reality. But it seems that Youssef has “lost sight” of this image. At the very end of the film, when Youssef is contemplating his earlier written plea to God to give him another chance, we again see an ant carrying a grain of food as it walks across the page. From our perspective we know that it is carrying not only the grain of food but the Sufi message that Youssef had forgotten.
which the ant carries to and fro continually.
The ant knows that the grains of which it has taken charge
will change and become assimilated.
One ant picks up a grain of barley on the road;
another ant picks up a grain of wheat and runs away.
The barley doesn't hurry to the wheat,
but the ant comes to the ant, yes it does.
The going of the barley to the wheat is merely consequential:
it's the ant that returns to its own kind.
Don't say, "Why did the wheat go to the barley?"
Fix your eye on the holder, not on that which is held.
As when a black ant moves along on a black felt cloth:
the ant is hidden from view; only the grain is visible on its way.
But Reason says: "Look well to your eye:
when does a grain ever move along without a carrier?"
-- (Masnavi VI: 2955-2962)
“Tell me what’s worth seeing, and I will tell you what’s not worth seeing. Ever since I have practiced not seeing, I have seen many wonderful things.”What is Morteza's intent? In any case, one wonders if perhaps the charismatic Morteza’s presence in the film should have been more emphasized.