24 Frames: O juiz e o assassino (Le juge et l’assassin, Bertrand Tavernier, 1976)

The titles fill the screen: “Between 1893 and 1898,” they tell us, “Bouvier killed twelve children. In those same years more than 2,500 children under fifteen died—assassinated—in mines and textile factories.”
The closing titles, of course, merely underscore the social and political message that has pervaded the entire film. Bouvier may be an assassin, but the world he inhabits—and which condemns him—is populated by assassins who are far more deadly than he. Indeed, this point is made explictly by the judge’s clear-sighted Royalist friend; citing an observation taken from Octave Mirbeau, a popular author of the period, he says, “We are all assassins, at least potentially, only we channel this criminal impulse through legal means: industry, colonial trade, war, anti-Semitism.” Reiterating this message in somewhat different terms, in one interview Tavernier described the confrontation between the judge and the assassin as the clash of “two violences: a crazy, tormented, uncontrollable, and unconscious violence and a legal, repressive, and hidden one.”