The Films of Robert Bresson

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

I suspect this poll will garner a sparse number of votes, but in a way, that is appropriate.

Five decades, thirteen films. Blank expressions, amplified sound effects. I've seen six of his films so far. I would cast my vote for "Balthazar", because of the scene with the boy and girl on the swing ("Jacques." "Marie.") and of course the final scene on the sheep's meadow. "Mouchette" would be second.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
A Man Escaped (1956) 5
Diary of a Country Priest (1951) 4
Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) 3
Lancelot of the Lake (1974) 2
Mouchette (1967) 2
L'Argent (1983)2
The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) 2
Pickpocket (1959) 1
Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) 0
A Gentle Woman (1969) 0
Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971) 0
Angels on the Streets (1943) 0
The Devil Probably (1977) 0
Les affaires publiques (short film) (1934) 0


Joe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 04:25 (twelve years ago) link

L'Argent, cause the donkey will get enough votes (like, two or three).

Eric H., Wednesday, 20 June 2007 04:29 (twelve years ago) link

LOL!

Joe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 12:16 (twelve years ago) link

Diary of a Country Priest.

Gukbe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 12:19 (twelve years ago) link

I went for Lancelot over the abused donkey film in the end, the climactic battle is the strangest fight I've ever seen in a film.

Matt #2, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 12:44 (twelve years ago) link

I've seen 9; tough choice. A Man Escaped over donkey.

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 13:03 (twelve years ago) link

A Man Escaped; just thinking about the donkey inspires teary heaves.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 13:06 (twelve years ago) link

Is it okay to vote if you've only seen one of these?

emil.y, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 13:11 (twelve years ago) link

Of course!

Joe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 13:22 (twelve years ago) link

One other thing is that "Mouchette" and "Diary of a Country Priest" are both admirably faithful to their novels (both were written by Georges Bernanos), even using a lot of dialogue verbatim.

Joe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 13:23 (twelve years ago) link

i've also seen nine of his films, and of those i've seen a man escaped, pickpocket and au hasard balthazar multiple times. i have to go with the donkey, but followed closely by mouchette, a film i'm sure i will see multiple times ...

i love the braying ass that interrupts the music during the opening credits of balthazar. who says bresson was humorless?!

edb, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 15:55 (twelve years ago) link

Mouchette, followed by Donkey and then A Man Escaped. Need to see Pickpocket again.

C. Grisso/McCain, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 17:05 (twelve years ago) link

actually I've seen ten -- didn't read A Gentle Woman as Une Femme Douce

Dr Morbius, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 17:09 (twelve years ago) link

Diary of a Country Priest has that alluring young woman who threw herself in front of a train a fews later. She was pretty hot when alive, though.

Gukbe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 17:50 (twelve years ago) link

I like how people keep using 'donkey' as shorthand on this thread.

Joe, Wednesday, 20 June 2007 18:18 (twelve years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

ILX System, Monday, 25 June 2007 23:01 (twelve years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

ILX System, Tuesday, 26 June 2007 23:01 (twelve years ago) link

I'm glad Diary of a Country Priest did well, but I have to admit, I'm a little distressed at the (near) lack of love for Pickpocket.

Gukbe, Wednesday, 27 June 2007 01:09 (twelve years ago) link

Aside from that very issue, I think this is one, and perhaps the only, poll result that most resembles the ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

en i see kay, Wednesday, 27 June 2007 01:25 (twelve years ago) link

who is my "Lancelot of the Lake" homie?

ryan, Wednesday, 27 June 2007 01:41 (twelve years ago) link

Why is it that I'm not interested at all in seeing A Man Escaped?

Eric H., Wednesday, 27 June 2007 04:36 (twelve years ago) link

Don't answer that.

Eric H., Wednesday, 27 June 2007 04:36 (twelve years ago) link

I am your Lancelot homie Ryan

Matt #2, Wednesday, 27 June 2007 10:36 (twelve years ago) link

two years pass...

I'm glad Diary of a Country Priest did well, but I have to admit, I'm a little distressed at the (near) lack of love for Pickpocket.

― Gukbe, Wednesday, June 27, 2007 2:09 AM (2 years ago) Bookmark

this at least gives me encouragement to watch the kinda old-time bressons that i've avoided for awhile.

did anyone ever read/flick through notes on cinematography?

high-five machine (schlump), Monday, 11 January 2010 00:02 (nine years ago) link

I would have voted Lancelot too!

Gravel Puzzleworth, Monday, 11 January 2010 00:04 (nine years ago) link

For a second I thought I was on the Walker Percy thread and was gonna say: RONG!

lex submerge (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 11 January 2010 00:07 (nine years ago) link

Country Priest is the most emotionally affecting, L'Argent is his most accomplished, Le Diable is his darkest, Une Femme Douce is his most visually-beautiful, perhaps.

vittorio de sickofitall (Daruton), Monday, 11 January 2010 04:10 (nine years ago) link

have only seen country priest. it's heavy as fuck but i think there was something precious in there. i've heard you need to watch it differently to most other films. my best friend told me that. we will watch it again some day. the priest's relationship with that young lady/girl was intriguing

Country Priest still my favourite.

moron oil (Gukbe), Monday, 11 January 2010 04:13 (nine years ago) link

also RIP that actress who jumped in front of a train :(

moron oil (Gukbe), Monday, 11 January 2010 04:14 (nine years ago) link

country priest would have been my pick if i'd voted. i don't think i can watch the donkey again.

strongohulkingtonsghost, Monday, 11 January 2010 04:56 (nine years ago) link

Still haven't watched A Man Escaped.

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 11 January 2010 05:06 (nine years ago) link

You should! It's a rather straightforward story (man is arrested, man devises way of breaking out, etc.), but the way Bresson films it can pretty much only be described as "poetic".

vittorio de sickofitall (Daruton), Monday, 11 January 2010 05:11 (nine years ago) link

I'm sure it's great. Everything Bresson did was.

queen frostine (Eric H.), Monday, 11 January 2010 05:31 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

Ignatiy V inaugurates a series of essays:

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/robert-bresson-the-over-plenty-of-life

related to 2-week NYC retro:

http://www.filmforum.org/films/bresson.html

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 8 January 2012 17:11 (seven years ago) link

Diary of a Country Priest is extraordinary. So much Bresson still to watch.

glumdalclitch, Sunday, 8 January 2012 17:19 (seven years ago) link

xp really weird to think that "that dude from the arty video store" is now an "authority"

tanuki, Sunday, 8 January 2012 17:22 (seven years ago) link

The Trial of Joan of Arc pulls off the climactic barbecue better than the other 3 Jeanne films I've seen.

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:14 (seven years ago) link

"just a little bread dipped in wine..."

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:22 (seven years ago) link

We've got a big series starting at the Lightbox next month (hooked in to the same series showing in NY, undoubtedly):

http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiffbelllightbox/2012/4400000375

clemenza, Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:32 (seven years ago) link

yes, full North American tour:

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/complete-bresson-retrospective-to-tour-north-america

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:37 (seven years ago) link

Apparently George Cukor is responsible for evangelizing about Bresson's greatness after watching Country Priest.

lumber up, limbaugh down (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 11 January 2012 15:38 (seven years ago) link

I.V. on Bresson and comedy:

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-comedy-stylings-of-robert-bresson

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 14 January 2012 16:02 (seven years ago) link

Diary... is so great.

Pains me to say it: his version of the Joan of Arc story is the weakest of the four, adds nothng to Dreyer's version beyond the non-silence of it. V well made staged and made and yet..

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 15 January 2012 11:52 (seven years ago) link

Four? I think I also know of Preminger, Victor Fleming and Rivette versions, I guess that's four

Mayne ... Or Astro-Mayne? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 January 2012 12:32 (seven years ago) link

I hope you're not including the Milla Jovovich version

tanuki, Sunday, 15 January 2012 14:02 (seven years ago) link

VF version with Ingrid Bergman in the title role was on last week but I didn't watch it.

Mayne ... Or Astro-Mayne? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 January 2012 14:18 (seven years ago) link

I didn't know there was a Rivette version! Was thinking of Dreyer, Bresson, Ingrid then Jovovich.

The Jovovich version has 'tude ;-), which is more than can be said for the Bresson version.

Dreyer, with the right soundtrack (or even completely silent) is best.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 15 January 2012 21:35 (seven years ago) link

Havne't seen Ingrid and that has to be corrected.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 15 January 2012 21:35 (seven years ago) link

Sandrine Bonnaire is Joan in the Rivette version. I only saw Part I, the first four hours.

Das Lexist (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 January 2012 21:39 (seven years ago) link

Une femme douce and four nights of a dreamer are ones I've checked out in the last couple of years after seeing the "essentials"
Both so beautiful
My fave remains diary tho

buzza, Saturday, 2 March 2013 03:46 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Donald Richie on Au Hasard Balthazar

Johnny Too Borad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:30 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

A Man Escaped has, to BluRay.

http://www.fandor.com/blog/daily-bressons-a-man-escaped

Pope Rusty I (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 6 April 2013 22:02 (six years ago) link

I watched the Criterion a couple weeks.ago

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 6 April 2013 22:24 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

http://vimeo.com/98484833

tender is the late-night daypart (schlump), Monday, 26 January 2015 05:23 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

his book, mentioned way back by schlump, is being reissued.

http://hyperallergic.com/337987/an-auteurs-enduring-and-confounding-guide-to-filmmaking/

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:07 (two years ago) link

What do people think of Les dames du Bois de Boulogne? I've managed to somehow not seen any of his films, but Les dames is playing this weekend. I get that it's probably not the best place to start with Bresson, but would it be, I don't know, an actually bad place to begin?

rob, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:25 (two years ago) link

i don't see why you should bypass it; just know it's not typical of the later stuff.

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:29 (two years ago) link

thanks

rob, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:34 (two years ago) link

Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne is great, has some really breathtaking scenes. It's definitely an early work, but I'd butter it in the better half of his.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 21:35 (two years ago) link

otm -- I love early films where an artist's processes are still embryonic (e.g. Tori Amos' debut)

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:11 (two years ago) link

butter? have no idea how that happened...

Frederik B, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:21 (two years ago) link

tbh Bresson's rep for emotional devastation is one reason I haven't gone out of my way to see, eg, the donkey, so I was actually pretty intrigued by Les Dames, which sounds a little too mannered to be too depressing (?). Just thought I'd check in with y'all since the thread got bumped

rob, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:25 (two years ago) link

I butter both halves, personally.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:26 (two years ago) link

The Donkey is overrated. I also rewatched Mouchette recently, and was a bit disappointed, remembered it better. I think his fifties films are the best, of course, but after that I prefer his 70's films like Four Nights of the Dreamer and The Devil, Probably. But they're advanced work, they definitely only work if you accept the style completely. Lancelot is a bridge too far, even for me.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:36 (two years ago) link

Lancelot and Country Priest are my two favourites. I wouldn't say The Donkey is overrated but it's the closest to that bridge too far for me.

Gukbe, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 22:38 (two years ago) link

Lancelot is just too silly... I mean, the skeleton hanging from a tree with his armor still on... Every Bresson film has a minimalist feel, but Lancelot just feels too wrong to me. And it's not just because it's a historical film, Jeanne d'Arc is much better. Agreed on Country Priest, that one is fantastic, though.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 23:25 (two years ago) link

Balthazar is the best - the scene where the donkey encounters the other caged animals in particular is a transcendent bit of filmmaking. I don't understand what this 'bridge too far' business means in this context, but Lancelot is great as well, even if the echoes with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (especially the way violence is treated in both of them) is a bit disconcerting.

The only Bresson I've seen that comes close to being a disappointment is A Gentle Woman (haven't watched Four Nights of a Dreamer).

Darcy Sarto (Ward Fowler), Thursday, 17 November 2016 15:23 (two years ago) link

“I began writing these notes 20 years ago. At that time, I still went to see films. Now I don’t go any more. I’ll tell you why: I don’t go, as I say in the book, because I can’t abide these actors who—in close-ups that reveal every detail—are there only to provide mimicry and theatrical gestures. And this feeling has grown even stronger—something has changed and I simply can’t do it, I can’t bear to see it or hear it.”

http://lithub.com/robert-bresson-im-not-a-director-i-am-a-filmmaker/

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 17 November 2016 19:41 (two years ago) link

Another link which I saw shared on Facebook. There was some chat that Bresson was a bit of a big fibber sometimes, that he was in fact a frequent moviegoer, and that he continued to work with 'professional' actors throughout his career.

http://www.publicbooks.org/artmedia/the-intrusion-artist

Darcy Sarto (Ward Fowler), Thursday, 17 November 2016 19:51 (two years ago) link

notes on the cinematographer is good to dip into

diary of a mod how's life (wins), Thursday, 17 November 2016 19:57 (two years ago) link

A Man Escaped is such an amazing movie. It maintains the doomy tautness to the death and has really brilliant use of off camera events and truncated faceless nazis to create atmosphere of indifferent evil. Brilliant use of Mozart as well.

calzino, Wednesday, 23 November 2016 01:12 (two years ago) link

L'Argent creates the same effects with the so-called villains.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 23 November 2016 01:13 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

RB is Dennis Cooper's fave artist

http://denniscooperblog.com/happy-birthday-to-me-robert-bresson-day-restored/

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:13 (two years ago) link

A Facebook friend asked just the other day if there was any 'good' anti-Bresson criticism; as with Ozu, it seems thin on the ground.

Darcy Sarto (Ward Fowler), Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:43 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

Lancelot is just too silly... I mean, the skeleton hanging from a tree with his armor still on... Every Bresson film has a minimalist feel, but Lancelot just feels too wrong to me. And it's not just because it's a historical film, Jeanne d'Arc is much better. Agreed on Country Priest, that one is fantastic, though.

― Frederik B, Wednesday, 16 November 2016 23:25 (nine months ago)

Oh man the skeletons with their armour still is so grimly effective and surreal that John Boorman re-used it for Excalibur, where knights dying from the plague were hung on trees. Im halfway throguh Lancelot, but I just wanted to reguister how unique the tone is, how great it looks, how Brittanic Arthurian it feels in an uninhibited, unabandoned way.

glumdalclitch, Tuesday, 29 August 2017 01:30 (two years ago) link

I want to agree with yuo about Diary of a Country Priest though. I haven't watched Jean D'Arc yet.

glumdalclitch, Tuesday, 29 August 2017 01:30 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

L'Argent is one of his best, isn't it? I was heistant after Le diable probablement, but this is much more enjoyable.

glumdalclitch, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:17 (one year ago) link

Yep. I bought the Criterion last year, a rarity these days.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:18 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

Reading Bresson's Notes on the Cinematograph, which is half great advice and half "wow, this guy is a massive asshole"

flappy bird, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 21:12 (eleven months ago) link

it's only 88 pages, all brief diary entries, aphorisms, self-reminders, and some veiled criticism. there's a lot of fantastic advice and insights, this is the one I've found most true so far:

What no human eye is capable of catching, no pencil, brush, pen of pinning down, your camera catches without knowing what it is, and pins it down with a machine's scrupulous indifference.

flappy bird, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 21:18 (eleven months ago) link

I give that book to a friend as a birthday present and then he proceeded to make a great show of adding his own marginal notes to every page and I was thinking “no, dude, don’t go there.”

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 14 November 2018 22:02 (eleven months ago) link

Laugh at a bad reputation. Fear a good one that you could not sustain.

flappy bird, Wednesday, 14 November 2018 22:56 (eleven months ago) link

four months pass...

donkey film = perfect film

flappy bird, Monday, 8 April 2019 16:19 (six months ago) link

six months pass...

just saw A Man Escaped, it was pretty great!

Dan S, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:16 (one week ago) link

Gonna assign Pickpocket to my students next week as an example of sound design and editing.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:20 (one week ago) link

that's my next one

Dan S, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:21 (one week ago) link

also just noticed that Diary of a Country Priest is on the criterion channel

Dan S, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:26 (one week ago) link

saw it originally years ago, only remember the feelings of estrangement and loneliness

Dan S, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:40 (one week ago) link

remember really liking Au Hasard Balthazar, looking forward to seeing that one again

Dan S, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 02:53 (one week ago) link

loved Pickpocket as much as A Man Escaped

Dan S, Thursday, 17 October 2019 01:38 (three days ago) link

I Lancelot of the Lake a lot. It’s strange.

circa1916, Thursday, 17 October 2019 01:59 (three days ago) link

I like*

circa1916, Thursday, 17 October 2019 01:59 (three days ago) link

want to see Lancelot du Lac, not sure how at the moment, going to watch Diary of a Country Priest again and looking forward to Mouchette and L'Argent

Dan S, Thursday, 17 October 2019 03:13 (three days ago) link

yeah that one rules

The Devil, Probably escaped me

flappy bird, Thursday, 17 October 2019 04:06 (three days ago) link

loved man escaped, thought pickpocket was trash soz

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 17 October 2019 07:26 (three days ago) link

I assigned Pickpocket to my students this week, and they've written well about it.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 17 October 2019 10:17 (three days ago) link

don't know how my post could be improved on really

though i should have mentioned that the photography is just jawdroppingly gorgeous

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 17 October 2019 10:40 (three days ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.