Jean-Pierre Melville movies are dominated by loneliness, failure and death. Movies that are said « films noirs » : Le Doulos, Le Deuxième Souffle (Second Breath), Le Samouraï, Un Flic, Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) all witness for a particular style, a precise and recurring mecanism. Betrayal is omnipresent, the movie is focused on on the execution of a coup (a murder, a robbery), the staging is austere and efficient. The shots are long, very quiet, decors are finely set up, the editing is minimalist.

A director with an American flair

The Melville style is asserted, with many cultural references, and indicator of his cinematographic influences. Passionnate about american cinema, movies such as Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca in1942 contributed to shape Melvillian style. As he wanted to become a character of popular french cinema, he built his own uniform – as a typical fiction figure.

The uniform of the characters in Melville’s films

Clothes are chosen and associated to create strong on-screen contrasts. Jean-Pierre Melville’s clothing fetishism is reflected on its characters. The leading characters only wear white shirts, anthracite grey or navy blue suits on which are added a camel overcoat or a beige trench coat. Felt hat, trench-coat belted at the waist, sunglasses (aviators or thick tortoise-shell) compose the Melvillian uniform, where the dandy meets the thug.

DELON, Alain, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Le Samouraï. 1967. 105 min. 

DELON, Alain, act. CROCHET, Paul, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Un flic. 1972 . 98 min. 

MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre. Paris. 1966. 

BELMONDO, Jean Paul, act. DESAILLY, Jean, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Le Doulos. 1962. 105 min. 

BELMONDO, Jean Paul, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Le Doulos. 1962. 105 min. 

DELON, Alain, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Le Samouraï. 1967. 105 min. 

MONTAND, Yves, act. MELVILLE, Jean-Pierre, dir. Le Cercle rouge. 1970. 140 min. 

    « historically done by hand, with a striking visual detail in lighter, brighter fabrics »
    «Writer of memory, Patrick Modiano is also the writer of fabrics.»
    « the aesthetics described as “French Mod”: extensive collars on structured shirts, a bit of flair here and a touch of paisley there. »
    « from being synonymous with rebellion, exemplified within the punk scene and anarchist movements to symbolizing freedom and unity »
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