Short stretches #1

In addition to all the prison movies, a lot of films, series and documentaries contain a scene in which one or several characters go to jail for a shorter or longer period of detention. And we find these in all genres, it could be in comedy as well in thriller. There some examples of “short stretches”:

  • The Blues Brothers (1980) by John Landis

The Blues Brothers is definitely one of the groovy films of the world. This feel-good movie, directed by the iconic John Landis is one of the most inventive, funny and entertaining ever made. It is at the crossroads of several genres. The Blues Brothers is at the same time a musical, a comedy and an action movie (with impressive car chases).

There are two prison scenes in this movie. Firstly, in the beginning, Jake, one of the two principal characters, gets out of prison. His brother Elwood is waiting for him in front of the prison. This film credits are very creative and visual. It shows a wide variety of shots, camera angles and focal lengths: overhead shots, aerial shots (truly successful at a time when the drones did not exist!), dolly shots, low-angle shots, shots under the characters’ feet…


Prison Guard #1: “Yeah, the Assistant Warden wants this one out of the block early. Wants to get it over with fast.”
Prison Guard #2: “Okay, let’s do it.” 
[rattling the bars with his baton]
Prison Guard #1: “Hey come on, it’s time to wake up.”
Prison Guard #2: “Wake up. Let’s go, it’s time.”
First lines of the film

Secondly, at the end of the film. The music group makes a concert in prison, where the inmates are very excited.


This scene reminds me the video clip of the great song L.S.F. by the music group Kasabian, in which they make a concert in a women prison.

  • Legend (2015) by Brian Helgeland

In Legend, which deals with the rise and fall of the Kray twins, two English criminals who really existed during the 1960’s. They both are played by the great Tom Hardy (the question is did he earn two wages?). In the middle of the film, Reggie, one of the brothers, goes to jail.

Although short, this scene is very good. As much as the entire film, this scene is very aesthetic. There has been a lot of work on light and colours. The scene begins with a powerful long take which plunges the viewer into the prison hallways as we were a prisoner.

Capture d_écran 2017-05-12 à 13.27.11

  • Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (2008) by Jean-François Richet

In the first film of the French diptych Mesrine, a biopic directed by Jean-François Richet about the life of the most famous French criminal Jacques Mesrine, the principal character (as Mesrine in real life) is sent to the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul prison from which he manages to escape with the complicity of other prisoners. This scene is an unusual good well moment of action and suspense for a French film.

“I’ve got a lot of plans. Close the prison with maximum security. I lived there for 5 years. Can you imagine? The whole 5 years! I want all of those who sit there to be freed! I’ve seen what’s going on over there, how they break people, how they destroy them. But our Mr. Minister, Alain Perfite, he doesn’t get it yet. I am an excellent shooter and I can kill a few judges.”
Jacques Mesrine to a journalist in the part 1



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