Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
In Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, the then 26 year old debutant introduced elements and themes that would recur in the primary films of the French New Wave filmmakers. Prior to working with Malle, Cinematographer Henri Decaë had just started his career photographing for Jean-Pierre Melville but his later works with Malle, Melville, Claude Chabrol and François Truffaut would cement an illustrious legacy in world cinema.
In Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, Malle and Decaë presented a direct act of murder with the flamboyance of true cinematic virtuosos.
In this sequence, Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) is about to murder his boss, Simon Carala (Jean Wall). Tavernier pleads for his secretary to stay behind with plans to use her as an alibi. Tavernier’s secretary indulges herself with the sharpening of pencils while Tavernier takes a secret route to meet his target.
1.) Simon Carala is unintimidated by Tavernier’s threat but is visibly shaken when he realizes that Tavernier is holding onto a familiar weapon that Tavernier couldn’t possibly have access to.
2.) Carala questions Tavernier but Tavernier is determined.
3.) Tavernier’s secretary is casually sharpening pencils while the malicious act is taking place.
4.) The camera cuts to a tighter shot with the loud sound of sharpening pencils masking away the gunshot. Then, a blip to the pencil sharpener happens, the secretary stops sharpening. She pulls out the pencil with the tip of its lead broken, artfully signifying the death of Simon Carala.
5.) Tavernier plants the gun onto Carala’s hand to complete the staging of a suicide.