222 Diary of a Country Priest

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Trees
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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#26 Post by Trees » Thu May 12, 2016 8:07 pm

For me, definitely Bresson's best. The compositions and light are to die for -- just sublime.

I love the little dolly push moves he so often utilizes in his setups for this film; they are simple but effective in conveying both emotion and gravity. This got me thinking about the origin or genesis of this kind of simple forward-motion dolly push shot on a character. These pushes in Diary really stand out. In the final shot of the priest sitting down in the chair that starts at 1:51:51 on the Criterion DVD, the dolly does a push, stops, lingers, then does a second push, ending very tight on his face before fading to black. I am trying to jog my memory and think of earlier films that used dolly pushes so blatantly and auspiciously. Can anyone help? Hollywood has obviously adopted this technique whole-heartedly for many decades. I am wondering if Bresson had a lot to do with that?

I wish Bresson had followed up Diary by examining some of the other lives around the priest. Maybe the girl who nurses him after he collapsed in the mud? What was the story of her life? What about the governess? There are so many characters of interest, and the storytelling system Bresson put in place for this film could easily have been extended and expanded to tell more stories of this time and place.

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Mr Sausage
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Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#27 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:44 am

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Re: Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#28 Post by djproject » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:20 am

I make it a point to watch it some time during the first week of Lent or Clean Week (I follow - or try to follow but often fail - the Orthodox practice).

One thing I am curious of hearing from others is why this chronic and seemingly automatic acrimony the villagers have toward the priest. It just seems that there are a thousand ways to hate this man simply because he wears a cassock and serves as their priest. I know that kind of disdain is expected, especially when putting on the collar ("the world hated Me before they hated you").

I think a good part of it is that he is a man who is deeply introspective and thoughtful and thus operates under a seemingly different wavelength to everyone else. His thoughts are in the heavens while everyone else is on earth.

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Re: Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#29 Post by Jack Phillips » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:27 am

djproject wrote: One thing I am curious of hearing from others is why this chronic and seemingly automatic acrimony the villagers have toward the priest. It just seems that there are a thousand ways to hate this man simply because he wears a cassock and serves as their priest. I know that kind of disdain is expected, especially when putting on the collar ("the world hated Me before they hated you").
I think you've put your finger on it. It's not the man so much as the office that is hated. The presence of a priest is a daily reminder to the townspeople that they are in various states of sin. They resent the reminder and take it out on the messenger.

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Re: Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#30 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:54 am

To some extent, are we maybe seeing the priest's perception of things, with a focus on those moments that cast him as more of an outsider? There are a few reasons why he might actively take on this role, such as 1) the need to not associate with them on a more chummy social level so that he feels he can administer to them from some sort of higher plane of existence, 2) the desire to emulate Christ's suffering in his own life to feel more authentic in his position. This is kind of dumb, but it makes me think of those videos that say "there is no friendzone--that's just a place that nice guys put themselves because they're too afraid to be anything more to a girl." Like, maybe on some subconscious level, the priest invites this behavior because of how he treats others, but he also feeds off of it because he thinks it makes him a better priest.

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Re: Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#31 Post by knives » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:58 am

That's more in line with my thinking, and enjoyment, of the movie though I always wonder if that's not just because Christianity is totally foreign to me. I'm actually left with loving the movie while never really having considered it as a religious work. It's social and psychological elements are what compels my interest.

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ando
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Re: Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

#32 Post by ando » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:48 pm

swo17 wrote:To some extent, are we maybe seeing the priest's perception of things, with a focus on those moments that cast him as more of an outsider? There are a few reasons why he might actively take on this role, such as 1) the need to not associate with them on a more chummy social level so that he feels he can administer to them from some sort of higher plane of existence, 2) the desire to emulate Christ's suffering in his own life to feel more authentic in his position. This is kind of dumb, but it makes me think of those videos that say "there is no friendzone--that's just a place that nice guys put themselves because they're too afraid to be anything more to a girl." Like, maybe on some subconscious level, the priest invites this behavior because of how he treats others, but he also feeds off of it because he thinks it makes him a better priest.
I believe that the young priest is beyond that sort of posturing; in fact, his immediate superior admonishes him for not adopting a more stern attitude toward his parish members, who were apt to take advantage of his simplicity. It's true that he treads on a high moral ground in relation to their relative dissipation but it's never a prop.It's his simpleness and directness that they detested most, actually. So yes, they were prepared to have contempt for any priest in his position but once he made his influence felt it was all the much worse for him in terms of a harmonious communal parishoner-priest relationship.

You may have a point, however, when it comes his own self-regard in relation to the example of the life of Christ. There may be a bit of self-delusion here, certainly, self-denial, though considering the way in which his character is drawn he'd be the last to interpret it this way. So his fate is sort of sealed from the beginning.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#33 Post by Roscoe » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:31 am

I was completely unmoved by the film when I saw it. I just sat there thinking that the priest's main issues might be resolved with a sensible diet and the occasional trip to a doctor.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#34 Post by ando » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:07 am

Roscoe wrote:I was completely unmoved by the film when I saw it. I just sat there thinking that the priest's main issues might be resolved with a sensible diet and the occasional trip to a doctor.
Unfortunately, he had his parents, the Catholic Church, his parishioners, his own predilections, George's Bernarnos' novel and Robert Bresson's designs to overcome as well.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#35 Post by Roscoe » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:26 pm

ando wrote:
Roscoe wrote:I was completely unmoved by the film when I saw it. I just sat there thinking that the priest's main issues might be resolved with a sensible diet and the occasional trip to a doctor.
Unfortunately, he had his parents, the Catholic Church, his parishioners, his own predilections, George's Bernarnos' novel and Robert Bresson's designs to overcome as well.
Indeed, and drunkenness, starvation and illness weren't going to help him overcome any of them. As someone with little to no religious faith or feeling, I found it incomprehensible.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#36 Post by Soothsayer » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:58 pm

Roscoe wrote:
ando wrote:
Roscoe wrote:I was completely unmoved by the film when I saw it. I just sat there thinking that the priest's main issues might be resolved with a sensible diet and the occasional trip to a doctor.
Unfortunately, he had his parents, the Catholic Church, his parishioners, his own predilections, George's Bernarnos' novel and Robert Bresson's designs to overcome as well.
Indeed, and drunkenness, starvation and illness weren't going to help him overcome any of them. As someone with little to no religious faith or feeling, I found it incomprehensible.
Hence the previous quote's mention of his parents...it's not just a "hey I'll just stop!" scenario. And this factor has nothing to do with religion.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#37 Post by ando » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:05 pm

Soothsayer wrote:
Roscoe wrote:
ando wrote: Unfortunately, he had his parents, the Catholic Church, his parishioners, his own predilections, George's Bernarnos' novel and Robert Bresson's designs to overcome as well.
Indeed, and drunkenness, starvation and illness weren't going to help him overcome any of them. As someone with little to no religious faith or feeling, I found it incomprehensible.
Hence the previous quote's mention of his parents...it's not just a "hey I'll just stop!" scenario. And this factor has nothing to do with religion.
Why not? His character, like any other human character, was/is shaped (some would say conditioned) by a multitude of influences; one of the primary being the Catholic Church. It has obviously shaped his belief. When I suggested earlier that the community was threatened by the young priest's simplicity I should have been more explicit; it's his simplicity of faith that that contributed in creating the deep isolation he finds himself in. It's as much a part of his character as his alcoholism. Separating the two is folly. People don't come that way.

I will say that Bresson's perversely spare approach in portraying most of his "models", especially the lead actors, provides a refreshing transparency of intention and a simultaneous enigma which has its own drama on top of that provided in the overall narrative.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#38 Post by Soothsayer » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:30 pm

I don’t see the Priest’s alcoholism as inherently tied to his faith. Much like I don’t see Bresson’s emphasis on grace in this film to be specifically tied to religion. It always felt to me to be one of many comments on the earthbound nature of life that affect all, believer or not. Be it addiction, sexual tension, or the desire for affirmation and acceptance from others.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#39 Post by ando » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:51 pm

Soothsayer wrote:I don’t see the Priest’s alcoholism as inherently tied to his faith.
Well, that wouldn't make much sense. I said his alcoholism and his faith were large parts of his character. And, yes, grace or, more properly, Bresson's view of grace is not tied to religion but in this film, however, religion is certainly the vehichle throuigh which grace is considered.

Think of the Countess and the distortion of her belief due to the loss of her son. The young priest was able to guide her toward grace by getting her to face her faith head on. With no intermediary the Countess was able to accept the death of her son and relieve herself of the anguish of despair- and anger - at a Divine power who she believed had betrayed her. It's one of the pivotal scenes in the film and one of my favorite in all cinema. How Bresson was able to pull it off without undue hysteria or maudlin sentimentality is a testament to his particular genius. And it's surely an instance where faith is the vehicle through which there is an opening, at least, for grace.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#40 Post by ando » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:32 am


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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#41 Post by Soothsayer » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:25 am

ando wrote:
Soothsayer wrote:I don’t see the Priest’s alcoholism as inherently tied to his faith.
Well, that wouldn't make much sense. I said his alcoholism and his faith were large parts of his character. And, yes, grace or, more properly, Bresson's view of grace is not tied to religion but in this film, however, religion is certainly the vehichle throuigh which grace is considered.

Think of the Countess and the distortion of her belief due to the loss of her son. The young priest was able to guide her toward grace by getting her to face her faith head on. With no intermediary the Countess was able to accept the death of her son and relieve herself of the anguish of despair- and anger - at a Divine power who she believed had betrayed her. It's one of the pivotal scenes in the film and one of my favorite in all cinema. How Bresson was able to pull it off without undue hysteria or maudlin sentimentality is a testament to his particular genius. And it's surely an instance where faith is the vehicle through which there is an opening, at least, for grace.
I've never implied that the film is entirely separated from religion. I'm stating that I don't think there is an inherent tie between alcoholism and religion or faith in this film. I know what you said, I just don't agree. I think Bresson was far more interested in showing the inescapable influence of a world with secular interests colliding with a man of faith and how it pans out. I do agree with your second paragraph, that's the general popular reading of that scene.

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Re: 222 Diary of a Country Priest

#42 Post by ando » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:38 pm

Soothsayer wrote:
ando wrote:
Soothsayer wrote:I don’t see the Priest’s alcoholism as inherently tied to his faith.
Well, that wouldn't make much sense. I said his alcoholism and his faith were large parts of his character. And, yes, grace or, more properly, Bresson's view of grace is not tied to religion but in this film, however, religion is certainly the vehichle throuigh which grace is considered.

Think of the Countess and the distortion of her belief due to the loss of her son. The young priest was able to guide her toward grace by getting her to face her faith head on. With no intermediary the Countess was able to accept the death of her son and relieve herself of the anguish of despair- and anger - at a Divine power who she believed had betrayed her. It's one of the pivotal scenes in the film and one of my favorite in all cinema. How Bresson was able to pull it off without undue hysteria or maudlin sentimentality is a testament to his particular genius. And it's surely an instance where faith is the vehicle through which there is an opening, at least, for grace.
I'm stating that I don't think there is an inherent tie between alcoholism and religion or faith in this film.
That association was never made.

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