Robert Bresson: Search & Destroy

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Search: Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Au Hazard Balthazar, L'Argent. I just rescreened Pickpocket and came close to weeping.

Destroy: ummm...remarkably little. Un Femme Douce and the Joan of Arc movie, the latter of which could work as a parody of the Dreyer film.

I saw Mouchette years ago on an execrable videocassette print. I must rescreen...if it's available.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Monday, 17 April 2006 23:13 (thirteen years ago) link

I've had a British DVD of Mouchette for over a year, but I never get around to hacking my DVD player in order to watch it. If you've got an all-region player, it should be about $12 from amazonUK.

I really want to see his Joan of Arc, but I don't think it's ever come out on DVD.

Big Willy and the Twins (miloaukerman), Monday, 17 April 2006 23:16 (thirteen years ago) link

Agree with all you said, also MOuchette = classic

search also Lancelot du Lac (weird flick, but his use of sound is truly astounding) and Les Dames du Bois de Boulognes (sp?)- it's Bresson, with acting!!!

The Devil, Probably did not make much of an impresion with me, need to see it in a theater. Also, Four Nights Of A Dreamer, again, I think I saw this but fell asleep or something.

Anyways, he's great, easily in my top 5 if not#1

timmy tannin (pompous), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 02:06 (thirteen years ago) link

Haven't seen a dud yet... in vaguely descending order (though even the least of them is still pretty much a masterpiece):

Au hasard Balthazar
L'Argent
Mouchette
Pickpocket

Eric H. (Eric H.), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 02:41 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah i haven't seen anything remotely near a dud. huge ups to the devil, probably and l'argent along with the big huge yes, even better than their reps masterpieces definite to get namechecked (big ups to a man escaped among that pack).

j blount (papa la bas), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 02:48 (thirteen years ago) link

The only film of his I've seen was the Jeanne D'Arc film.. and it was deatly boring and tedious.. though I guess that was the point.

The Brainwasher (Twilight), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 02:57 (thirteen years ago) link

i saw the joan of arc movie on TCM a few years ago, it's kinda...interestingly uninteresting. i don't think it's long enough to be boring, exactly: the fascination of it is that it's so dry and matter-of-fact you could almost be watching the REAL trial. it has a great ending, too.

pickpocket is fantastic, needless to say. the only other one i've seen is lancelot, which is rather hilariously similar to monty python and the holy grail (only without jokes). the thing that sticks with me is the way you can hear the swords clanking and the horses galloping SO SHARPLY all through the film.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 08:07 (thirteen years ago) link

Rereleasing ...Balthazar last year was Criterion's greatest gift to mankind.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 10:23 (thirteen years ago) link

"I saw Mouchette years ago on an execrable videocassette print. I must rescreen...if it's available."

As we type, Rialto Pictures is touring a new print of Mouchette on the Art House & Museum circuit, and supposedly Criterion will have it out on DVD by the end of the year. Which is great, because (A) it's my favorite, and (B) the video print is indeed shit-tay.

Chairman Doinel (Charles McCain), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 12:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Yes, I watched that Balthazar, so amazing. I don't think Bresson is ever really bad but Four Nights of a Dreamer is nothing special as I recall.. although at the time I wasn't appreciative of his directing style and was prob busy wondering "so.. uh.. plot? WTF?"

dar1a g (daria g), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 13:27 (thirteen years ago) link

Search all, that I've seen anyway. A Man Escaped is my fave, followed by Balthazar and Mouchette .

Picketpocket just isn't in the first tier for me, I might even prefer Femme Douce, L'Argent and Lancelot. Les Dames du Bois de Bologne is early and not as fully Bressonian, but I like lots.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 15:30 (thirteen years ago) link

I'd rank them:

Au hazard, Balthazar
A Man Escaped
Pickpocket
L'Argent

Diary of a Country Priest is in the second tier. Pauline Kael bemoaned the utter dullness of the priest's spiritual crisis (maybe the actor's performance drove Bresson to use "models")

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 15:46 (thirteen years ago) link

Pauline Kael bemoaned the utter dullness of the priest's spiritual crisis

Reason # 3,897 why PK is not to be trusted, especially with anything so sublime and subtle as DIARY

timmy tannin (pompous), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 15:54 (thirteen years ago) link

Kael loved A Man Escaped, but she had lots of good things to say about Country Priest. It doesn't rank high on my list of favorites because it relies too heavily on voice-overs and the priest's doe-eyed yearning; when Bresson found his style (the dissolves, the heightened soundtrack) his films got lots better.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 16:05 (thirteen years ago) link

actually, I just found a reference where Pauline is quoted as saying "Diary of a Country Priest is one of the most profound emotional experiences in the history of the cinema."

if that's correct, I say she nailed it, and proves she was capable of real insight occasionally when she wasn't being lazy and switched on auto-schtick

timmy tannin (pompous), Tuesday, 18 April 2006 16:09 (thirteen years ago) link

Where to start? I'm leaning towards Au hasard Balthazar, or maybe A Man Escaped if I want to ease myself in...

Edward III (edward iii), Thursday, 20 April 2006 14:33 (thirteen years ago) link

back in the day i way preferred lancelot: in fact i'm not even sure which other ones i watched apart from pickpocket -- it was five or six over two days at an everyman season and i SO didn't get it :(

i am trying to work out which of the late ones it was that i *hated* -- diable or quatre nuits? all i can now recall = it was in colour, and possibly there was water involved (!)

it is time to see them again i think

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 20 April 2006 15:01 (thirteen years ago) link

Begin with A Man Escaped, Edward. It's got a modicum of suspense.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 20 April 2006 15:11 (thirteen years ago) link

I don't mind glacial pacing. My favorite film is Andrei Rublev.

Edward III (edward iii), Thursday, 20 April 2006 17:04 (thirteen years ago) link

"Glacial" is the last thing I'd call Bresson. His scenes are pretty short, with great use of dissolves and elisions.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 20 April 2006 17:34 (thirteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
That TV doc w/ Bresson on the CC Balthazar is great... his classic line on the best cinema being suggestive is "Ideally, one would show nothing, but..."

I don't cry at the end of that one, tho, sorry. It is, after all, a donkey.

Also he really doesn't like transistor radios.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 20 November 2006 18:30 (twelve years ago) link

I have yet to shed a tear during a Robert Bresson film. I rarely cry during very good movies.

Eric H. (Eric H.), Monday, 20 November 2006 18:39 (twelve years ago) link

I got the Criterion Au Hasard a few months ago; haven't felt like rescreening it.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Monday, 20 November 2006 18:46 (twelve years ago) link

xpost

Meet Me in St. Louis doesn't count?? (still, you remind me of Andrew Sarris' review of the Annie film -- yes, the B'way musical -- where he admitted he cried during "Tomorrow")

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 20 November 2006 18:56 (twelve years ago) link

Oh, I guess I lied. I get a little goo-goo at "Have Yourself A Merry Little Xpost."

Eric H. (Eric H.), Monday, 20 November 2006 19:03 (twelve years ago) link

My jaw trembled when MSNBC ran a clip of an old Reagan speech this Saturday.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Monday, 20 November 2006 19:17 (twelve years ago) link

lock thread

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 20 November 2006 20:02 (twelve years ago) link

ten months pass...

"a man condemned to death has escaped"

just this saw at the national film theatre last night

wau

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 10 October 2007 09:22 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

just watched les dames du bois, it was interesting seeing his style still sort of evolving there. the use of "real" actors and the cocteau dialogue both create an interesting tension with what you can already tell are his inclinations toward severity and minimalism. cocteau isn't really his opposite, because he's elliptical and allusive, but he's at sort of a 45-degree angle to bresson (more romantic, obviously). maria casares is really good, so devilish.

STRATE IN2 DAKRNESS (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 25 October 2009 05:42 (nine years ago) link

love this quote from him about working with casares:

A friend told me that in Julien Green’s South she had to appear on the stage saying, “it’s raining”; in French, il pleut. Despite the simplicity of these words, her tragedian’s temperament made her shout emphatically: “Il … Il … pleut!” […] To get courage, she used to drink a little glass of cognac before acting. When I chanced to discover this, I asked her to take a sedative instead, which she willingly did. Then things started to go better.

STRATE IN2 DAKRNESS (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 25 October 2009 05:51 (nine years ago) link

Ha! Just watched it too today! And this is not only OTM but very well-put: "he's at sort of a 45-degree angle to bresson." I just love how the whole thing is set in motion. Hélène is such a childish, preposterous, and dangerously so. And yet Bresson's intensity elevates her evil project.

Kevin John Bozelka, Sunday, 25 October 2009 05:54 (nine years ago) link

such a = so

Kevin John Bozelka, Sunday, 25 October 2009 05:54 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

i think lancelot du lac is the one ive liked the best or maybe i was just in the perfect mood for it, uncertainty and dread and severity. idk i thought it was really good, ive been kinda thinking about it all day

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 20:17 (seven years ago) link

it is surely one of his very best. the jousting!

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 20:24 (seven years ago) link

haha yeah! its so tense but also anticlimactic, almost? amateursit tell why this movie is so good tho, is it the lighting???

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 20:39 (seven years ago) link

no, it's the ambient sounds!

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 20:40 (seven years ago) link

should revisit this one. does anyone else like his 'joan of arc' film a lot?

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 4 May 2012 20:43 (seven years ago) link

syuzhet and fabula!!! (xp)

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 21:04 (seven years ago) link

I just saw the Joan recently, it's fine, as good a climax as imaginable (perhaps better than Dreyer's).

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Friday, 4 May 2012 21:20 (seven years ago) link

saw "Joan" years ago -- maybe the closest Bresson came to dull craftsmanship.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 4 May 2012 21:44 (seven years ago) link

dr. morbius you can tell me why lancelot is so good too. (xp)

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 21:44 (seven years ago) link

syuzhet and fabula!!!

best stalin-era comedy duo ever!

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 21:46 (seven years ago) link

i particularly like their "who's on first?" routine.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 21:46 (seven years ago) link

i agreed with what i understood to be the thesis of the article you linked but reading it made me laugh p hard i always forget that jargon is the humanities version of ~equations~

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 21:54 (seven years ago) link

this note of bresson's seems relevant:

Slow films in which everyone gallops and gesticulates; quick films in which people hardly move.

raymond durgnat called red psalm 'processional' cinema, and lancelot du lac seems to fit that, too

(best joan of arc movie(s)= the full-length rivette version imho)

Ward Fowler, Friday, 4 May 2012 22:08 (seven years ago) link

that article is not really super-jargony, once you get past several russian formalist terms -- it's surely not written in a way designed to impede understanding as is often the case w/ academics.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 22:08 (seven years ago) link

quick films in which people hardly move.

ha! he basically anticipates the matrix sequels.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 22:09 (seven years ago) link

no no give or take a 'parametric variations' her style is quite good and clear it just struck me as funny perhaps because i am working/avoiding working on a paper stuffed full of equations atm

anyway 'ambient sounds' was a good answer, thank you for playing

Lamp, Friday, 4 May 2012 22:13 (seven years ago) link

yeah i see. the book is very nearly all _about_ "parametric narration" and the introduction lays that all out pretty clearly IIRC. it's not the best-written article ever but i think it gets at some of the things that make the movie special.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 22:19 (seven years ago) link

(best joan of arc movie(s)= the full-length rivette version imho)

kinda interesting that so many of the best filmmakers have taken on this subject -- offhand i can't think of any other historical figure who's gotten that much attention. maybe napoleon, if we count kubrick's abandoned project.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 4 May 2012 22:35 (seven years ago) link

Jesus?

xpost

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 4 May 2012 22:36 (seven years ago) link

jesus: 359 films
adolf hitler: 341 films
abraham lincoln: 300 films
joan of arc: 82 films

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:01 (seven years ago) link

don king: 9 films

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:02 (seven years ago) link

i think bresson's joan of arc film is interesting, like all his films. the one i don't have much patience with is "a gentle woman."

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:05 (seven years ago) link

the casting of Dominique Sanda is all too easy.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:11 (seven years ago) link

jesus: 359 films
adolf hitler: 341 films
abraham lincoln: 300 films
joan of arc: 82 films

i guess i meant 'great' filmmakers, as in it's interesting that ppl of the caliber of dreyer, bresson and rivette all felt compelled to take on joan. jesus is a good suggestion, tho, and lincoln has at least two greats in his corner (griffith and ford).

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:36 (seven years ago) link

dreyer, bresson and rivette

don't forget luc besson!

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:50 (seven years ago) link

and Otto Perminger!

Leslie Mann: Boner Machine (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 4 May 2012 23:51 (seven years ago) link

the making of doc on the mouchette criterion is really awesome imo

johnny crunch, Friday, 4 May 2012 23:55 (seven years ago) link

Dreyer and Besson ftw!

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 5 May 2012 15:20 (seven years ago) link

seven years pass...

Interesting - and gossipy - obit for Francois Weyergans, who made a documentary about Bresson and whose wife at the time later married Bresson and became his main collaborator:

https://www.sabzian.be/note/françois-weyergans-1941-2019?fbclid=IwAR2SpKhdd6s_68_kVLqhXQIMk1q3Z9eL6B80D8e_OBxIJuwGeU1xRbbQ7L8

Ward Fowler, Monday, 10 June 2019 13:10 (three months ago) link


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