The Thinking Machine 17

Remarks on the Formation of Abstract Set Theory

Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López reflect on the art of filmmaking in monthly video essays.

There is a famous, prolonged heist sequence at the centre of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge (1970) – but not at the centre of our audiovisual essay. We seek to show how, beyond the film’s strict plot lines, Melville creates a network of magnetic attractions and contrasting parallelisms between particular characters – a chain of charged exchanges and fateful omens travelling across scenes. Only once the story is completely over can we fully grasp the intricacies and resonances of the film’s network – its “abstract set theory”, to borrow from a book title glimpsed in another Melville masterwork, Army of Shadows (1969).