Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.”
So says the epigraph of the film Le Cercle Rouge. To be sure, it never happened, and it isn’t a real quote; director Jean-Pierre Melville made it up. However it accurately sets the table for the film and in some ways describes life in general.
On its surface, Le Cercle Rouge is a standard heist movie. On deeper inspection it is an examination of fate, and how one’s actions can place one on a vector to an inevitable destination. The three thieves cross paths in a protracted manner. The movie starts with two of them gaining new found freedom – Corey via the ending of his prison sentence, and Vogel, a criminal, escaping from a police inspector while in the process of being transferred.
Vogel’s escape leads him to climb into the back of a parked car at a diner – which happens to be the car belonging to Corey. The two then form a partnership which is strengthened after Vogel saves Corey’s life. Corey continues to help the fugitive flee to Paris, where he informs Vogel of the opportunity to rob a jewelry store that he was given while in prison. Vogel says he knows someone who can help, and the third accomplice is introduced.
Meanwhile, the police inspector, Mattei, is working on finding Vogel. His boss is a stern man, who believes that all men have crime within them, and it is a matter of each person constantly keeping it at bay. Mattei believes that men are born innocent, and crime enters them from outside as time goes on.
Loyalty, revenge, self-discipline, honor, and consummate professionalism, among other things, are all present throughout. They all have different motivations, and have all entered into this drama from different paths, but they are all currently within it, within the red circle. What they do next then sets in motion another series of events, events which will lead to more men inevitably meeting in more red circles.
To me, ‘The Red Circle’ is simply ‘the predicament,’ whatever it may be. It may be menial. It may be as grand as international military conflicts. The bottom line is that, while we can control our own actions, they do not happen in a vacuum. The latticework made from individual decisions combine to create situations, and in turn large scale movements which influence further individual decision making. There is a certain inevitability to all of this.
In the forthcoming writings, I seek to discuss the various ‘red circles’ which permeate our existence. The subject matter is likely to be diverse, as I have interests in many areas. Whether that arena is financial markets, sport, entertainment, politics, culture or something else, the main breadth of my writing will be about where we are, how we got here, and where we’ll go if we keep on the same path.