Jean Renoir's 1936 thriller The Crime of Mr. Lange carries an extended metaphor of the "circular", both in terms of time and in terms of space. With regards to the former, the film is otherwise chronological except for the flash forward in the opening, as Lange's lover Valentine recounts the story behind Lange’s murder of corrupt capitalist Batala to a group of hostile patrons at the inn. Her words bring us back to the publishing company and everything unravels from there—until the film ends at the inn where it starts, thereby completing the circle of time while suspending the future as Valentine and Lange fade into a plan d’ensemble.
On the other hand, the film is also spatially circular, famously epitomized in the pan sequence with Lange carrying a heated pan up and down the circular courtyard before the camera finally syncs in as he shots Batala. In fact, the mise-en-scène features almost entirely a male-run publishing company and a female-run laundry room. Aside from a tight knit ensemble typical of the French, this circular film form symbolically dissolves the singular for the communal. That being said, it is less claustrophobic than say, The Passion of Joan of Arc, which overwhelmingly locks the audience with Jean's intense facial expressions, as Renoir edits in snippets of a buzzling Paris throughout.
Circuity subtly alludes to the French Communist Party, which perpetuates that all workers are bound by the common enemy of méchant capitalists. The pan sequence leading up to Lange’s vengeful act against Batala is seldom a personal matter but a collective one. Given that the publishing company has evolved from a dictatorship to a cooperative in which everyone is a boss, that the community eventually pardons Lange is not due to individual sympathy but diffusion of his guilt to the entire group whose interest his criminality has served. However, while the power of the collective fights against capitalistic oppression with some success, it paradoxically binds people to each other such that individualistic liberty is never achieved.
What makes this film exquisitely nuanced are the conflicting ideological dimensions penetrated across one visual dimension. Such cinematic decision is reflective of the popular front movement as the latter also binds people of contradictory mindsets under the same political umbrella. As far as the film is concerned, the unrestricted Valentine and the frail Estelle come together despite differences, to support and forgive Lange in the name of the working class.