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3. http://www.imdb.com/poll/results/2010-09-07(Inspired by me!)
Le samouraï (1967)
A samurai trapped in the modern day's cage
The movie begins with an empty room but after a few seconds, a lonely samurai lights a cigarette to show us that it's not quite empty. Then, after the opening credits, genius Melville gives us a clever quote: "There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle... Perhaps...", with only one line, Melville summarizes the whole movie. First scenes of the movie last about 10 minutes with no word spoken, this is a technique which Melville knows how to use so we can barely notice the silence, like in Le Cercle Rouge that has a heist scene which lasts 25 minutes without any dialog. Le Samouraï has many silent moments but they are very meaningful. We follow Jeff in his daily life with his special principles, we can guess that all of his days are the same and he obeys the same rules everyday. He seems to be loving a woman but he doesn't know how to show her his feelings. This character is played by Alain Delon who only uses one facial expression during the movie which is enough according to the nature of his character. Jeff's only friend is a small bird who has been trapped in a cage, too.They seem to have a supernatural connection with each other, they can't speak each other's languages but they have this ability to understand each other, they can empathize with each other. The bird knew how to warn him after two policemen had sneaked into his house.
No wonder Martin Scorsese has pointed to Jean-Pierre Melville as a key influence, I imagine Le Samouraï could be a suitable movie to watch before making Taxi Driver.
The movie has one of those endings that I can never forget. Jeff has 'been paid' to murder someone he cares for, a perfectionist hit-man goes to kill someone with an unloaded gun, he gives away his precious hat because he knows what's going to happen, he puts on his gloves in front of a bartender in order to gain his attention and make sure everything goes according to plan, he approaches to the target and takes out his gun in front of a crowd which is a strange thing for a hit-man to do, then, the thing which he was expecting happens. He chose his own destiny.
We have two possibilities for Jeff's motions, either he was tired of his life and wanted to die in a way which he considered honorable, or he had gotten used to his way of living so much that he couldn't miss one single job, after all, you've got to stick to your principles.