In the first three shots of the film, Melville sleekly and with great economy presents the protagonists, their motivation, the obstacles, the locale, and their relation to one another in space.
Here are our heros. It is late at night and they are attempting to move unseen. The walls form very clean surfaces and draw the eye in the direction of the first man's gaze.
Here we see what he is looking at. More clean lines, another wall and a spotlight establish they are in a prison—they are about to escape. Our eyes are already trained on the upper right portion of the screen at the spotlight. Now the the corners of the walls draw our eyes downward.
While we are already prepared to look down, the bird's-eye view of the prison guards must be from the point of view of the prisoners. The guards are looking back to the left of the screen, presumably toward the spotlight, which places us in the same location as the prisoners, giving us a clear indication who we are to identify with.
The scene is nearly silent and the efficiency of the camera work and editing are mirrored by the prisoners' quiet exit (or vice versa).
A married woman has an affair with a younger man, the man grows jealous and convinces her to murder her husband, the husband haunts them and things end poorly. The tired story is not treated particularly originally here but the sets always look great and the colors are vivid and interesting. Next time I'll watch Taboo instead.
After a long tracking shot of Louise (Danielle Darrieux) and Fabrizio (Vittorio De Sica) dancing at a ball, Ophuls fades to a shot of this painting and more dancing on a later night. He employs a clever technique to maintain kinesis.
Here, the painting.
Darrieux steps in from the right of the camera, De Sica from the left.
They meet in the center of the frame .
Here they continue twirling as though they had been embracing before the shot began.
The camera resumes tracking along with them.
Had Ophuls faded from a shot of the dancing couple to another shot of dancing the image would have been cluttered. A tracking shot where the camera met up with the couple to its left or right would have lost some kinetic tension; dancing into a motionless frame from the side would have had the same effect. Here it is as if the camera moves backward between their heads—they seem to materialize in the center of the frame already in progress.