It is currently Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:49 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 135 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 12:07 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
davidhare wrote:
Langlois I relate far FAR more to the Donkey/s in Balthazar than I do to practically every American actor currently working in films. They're only fucking pathetic humans.

I was drunk when I wrote that. I absolve myself of the original post and endorse yours.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 2:40 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
HAhahahah!

(And the donkey is beautiful, and beautifully filmed as a baby with the children stroking his fur. And his constant attempts to return to his "home"show a refined response to direction, like Marlene's cat and his eye-acting in Dishonored. Almost upstages Marlene. You KNOW how much I love animals! I've just been reading a review of a book about Picasso's dachshund, "Lumpito" called "the Dog that ate a Picasso.")


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:11 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:16 pm
Location: Le Cateau, France
For the ones who read French, I highly recommend the 2007 book Jeune fille by Anne Wiazemsky (Collection Blanche - Gallimard ISBN 2070774090), which is a personal account of the shooting of Au hasard Balthazar with Robert Bresson.

Very interesting reading.


Last edited by French completist on Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:57 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 7:22 pm
Hmmmph. Watched this tonight and was left mostly puzzled. Not by the film, but by the massive accolades showered on it over the years.

For all the misery and suffering on display here, I was curiously unaffected. I could tell that I was supposed to feel sadness and compassion for the characters (and donkey) on screen, but there was just nothing. After sitting back for a while and thinking about it afterwards, I realized that the problem, most likely, is that Bresson just doesn't provide enough context for the misery of these people's lives. He's reduced every life here to its most miserable and debased moments, strung together with very sudden cuts in between. In theory, you'd think that a movie composed entirely of images of suffering would be more affecting, but I found that it simply deadened me, made me care less (this is starting to sound a lot like my criticism of The Passion of the Christ, actually). There was nothing to contrast these scenes against, except maybe the VERY brief glimpse of childhood nostalgia at the very opening of the film. There's no sense of humor, no scene that could remotely elicit a laugh or even a smile, or awaken any emotion other than pity. It's such a limited presentation of the human experience that I could barely relate to it.

In contrast, it's certainly far bleaker and more hopeless than what I previously considered the bleakest film I'd ever seen -- Fassbinder's In A Year of 13 Moons. But Fassbinder's film was infinitely more affecting because it was able to encompass humor and compassion and affection -- everything that's missing from Bresson's worldview here. It's still bleak, it's still so pessimistic it's painful, and its ending is just as final and hopeless. But because it includes that wider range, that greater depth of character, it's so much more moving. Not that I think the two films are particularly comparable beyond their bleakness -- it's just an example of the kind of storytelling and character development that's missing from Balthazar. Even though Bresson has purposefully left out these things, they were sorely missed (for me, anyway).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:15 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
sevenarts wrote:
It's such a limited presentation of the human experience that I could barely relate to it.

This is the exact opposite of most reactions to Bresson, which is amazement at the density and range of human experience his films can elicit. "Balthazar is life in 90 minutes" and alll that jazz. So frankly, I find your objections incomprehensible. Are you saying there's no humor because the actors don't laugh or dead-pan?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:32 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Frankly -- I'm with sevenarts. I much prefer Mouchette.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:51 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 7:22 pm
GringoTex wrote:
This is the exact opposite of most reactions to Bresson, which is amazement at the density and range of human experience his films can elicit. "Balthazar is life in 90 minutes" and alll that jazz. So frankly, I find your objections incomprehensible. Are you saying there's no humor because the actors don't laugh or dead-pan?

If Balthazar was "life in 90 minutes," I probably wouldn't want to live any more. Are you really going to tell me that a full range of life and experience is on display here? I'm not even asking for a full range, but a range even slightly more expansive than just one miserable note repeated over and over for 90 minutes. I'm saying there's no humor because, well, there's none, but that's a fairly minor quibble. I don't really see what's so incomprehensible about my objections, though I realize I'm in a minority here. The film just presents an extraordinarily limited view of life, limited almost exclusively to suffering, pain, and death. Even the kids in the opening scene look pretty miserable except when they're playing with Balthazar. What exactly are we left with at the end of the film? Life is misery, people are cruel, religion is futile, there's no love, and then you all die. The film holds out no possible hope of anything leavening the oppressive misery it smothers its characters in. I greatly appreciate many "sad" films, I even gave an example above and Bergman's a favorite director of mine, but this just felt like wallowing in misery for its own sake. I didn't even hate the film -- the cinematography is lovely, and Wiazemsky gives a good performance -- but I was left really deadened and indifferent afterwards.

This was my first Bresson, and I'm a bit disappointed. I'll certainly give him a second chance, but considering my objections to this film, could anybody point me towards a Bresson film I'm likely to enjoy more?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:11 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
sevenarts wrote:
This was my first Bresson, and I'm a bit disappointed.

There's probably two things hindering your appreciation:

1) Acting style: I think it's common for new viewers to confuse the expressionless acting with bleakness. It's not bleak but neutral.

2) Keep Bresson's spiritual aspect in mind. There is good and there is evil, and the material misery of the characters can be transcended (there's that word again!) through the good.

sevenarts wrote:
I'll certainly give him a second chance, but considering my objections to this film, could anybody point me towards a Bresson film I'm likely to enjoy more?

A Man Escaped and Pickpocket have more obvious "upper" endings.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:48 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 7:22 pm
GringoTex wrote:
2) Keep Bresson's spiritual aspect in mind. There is good and there is evil, and the material misery of the characters can be transcended (there's that word again!) through the good.

I'm a bit confused about that in relation to Balthazar, actually. There were some rather obvious Christ parallels in the film -- the wound at the end, the "crown" of flowers Marie puts on the donkey, the walk to his death with a burden on his back. But other than that I didn't get any great sense of spiritual salvation in the film, and I'm not sure where the reading that Balthazar's death is a transcendence comes from. Like most of the other characters in the film, he lives a miserable life and then he dies. I suppose if you believe in the Christian notion of an afterlife then you could say that Balthazar's (and Marie's and the other characters) suffering in life is repaid by grace in Heaven -- but nowhere is this idea to be found, either explicitly or implicitly, in the film itself. To me, the ending implied nothing more than that Balthazar died, thus ending his troubles. I have to think that the idea of transcendence is being read into the film based on knowledge of Bresson and his ideas, because the film seems entirely grounded in the material world to me. The scene with the father and the priest seems to confirm this, as the wife's prayers to keep her husband alive are emphatically not answered. I think if this film had not been made by an avowed Christian filmmaker, it would be read quite differently.

Edit: Oh, and actually, the acting was one aspect of the film I did appreciate. Wiazemsky was especially good. But again, it's good within a very limited range of expression.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:06 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
Bresson is one of the few directors I would ever say this about, but you really need to watch more than one Bresson to get what he's trying to do. I'd say most people are a little flummoxed and confused by their first Bresson. That said, Balthazar is probably my least favorite Bresson film. Watch Pickpocket (with the introduction) and then the commentary, if you're up to it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:33 pm
I think Bresson had a spiritual and artistic mission (in that sense, i would say he is closest to Tarkovsky; despite the differences in their styles). His style is so different from other directors that it took significant time for me to penetrate in (and eventually, deeply appreciate) his world. For example, he didn't want actors but models -- and understanding what he really means by this can take multiple viewings of his films and much thinking.

I would strongly suggest the excellent material available at Masters of Cinema's Robert Bresson Site, in particular the texts of interviews with Bresson available at Words page.

And I agree with the suggestion above: probably A Man Escaped and Pickpocket are the best starting points for his oeuvre.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
sevenarts wrote:
I have to think that the idea of transcendence is being read into the film based on knowledge of Bresson and his ideas, because the film seems entirely grounded in the material world to me.

Yes, it's grounded in the material world, but it's all full of Christian (spiritual) symbolism and iconography. It's that dual nature which makes Bresson's work so fascinating.

sevenarts wrote:
Edit: Oh, and actually, the acting was one aspect of the film I did appreciate. Wiazemsky was especially good. But again, it's good within a very limited range of expression.

It's generally taken that because the actors are expressionless, their range is limitless.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 5:39 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:43 pm
Location: The 'Go
Balthazar was my second chance for Bresson, and I think domino might be onto something. After a completely unremarkable experience with Diary of a Country Priest, this one opened me back up.

My (entirely un-Christian, unscholastic, and uneducated in Bresson) viewing experience wasn't one of despair, though. After watching Balthazar get pissed on for 90 minutes straight, I certainly wasn't in a good mood. But when the flock of sheep move to reveal our furry martyr at the end, my heart was ripped into two parts -- "Little donkey friend, you fucking rock." and "Little donkey friend, enjoy the rest, it's about time." Neither of these struck me as sad, and each of them, even individually, outweighed every drop of sorrow that had preceded it.

Sermonize it, brotha Dcuk!

GringoTex wrote:
It's generally taken that because the actors are expressionless, their range is limitless.

This argument seems a little bit on the pedantic side. Besides, I would never consider these performances (or any by non-actors) expressionless. They certainly aren't acting, but that's not the same thing. Neutral is the hardest expression to convey, because it never occurs in the natural world.

-Toilet Dcuk


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 5:57 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
I thought the acting (modeling) of the young male juvenile delinquents was pretty poor. My sense was that Bresson didn't have the slightest clue himself as to what made these kind of kids tick.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:45 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am
//


Last edited by jonah.77 on Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:03 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:33 pm
These are certainly important points/observations. Here is an excerpt from Charles Thomas Samuels' interview with Robert Bresson (Paris, September 2, 1970). Full text is available here.

Samuels: Until now [Balthazar], all your films take place, as it were, without spatial or temporal particularity. Here, for the first time, contemporary mores are unmistakable: the blousons noirs, jazz, etc. Was this conscious and deliberate?

Bresson: No.

S: It just happened? Yet it happens again in Mouchette and in Une Femme douce. For example, in each film jazz enters with such volume and cacophony that it becomes hateful. Am I not correct, then, in sensing, beginning with Balthazar, your hatred for the modern world?

B: Perhaps not hatred, but rather distrust for some kinds of modern society. I am starting to write a script about the forces that dominate modern man.

S: What causes this recent interest of yours in contemporary life?

B: This interest is not recent. Since my balms have become simpler and simpler, I want to attach myself to some material that is resistant and that will make my work tougher.

S: Do you think it is a reflection of your time of life: the impulse to judge the age?

B: No. I don't judge; I only show, Or rather, I show how the world makes me feel now.

S: You say that Balthazar must pass among the vices of man. But Gerard, because of the very accuracy with which he is portrayed as a contemporary juvenile delinquent, seems to me to be too banal to represent vice.

B: Since six years have passed, he may seem banal. In any case, he is imbecility and violence, which go well together, the one producing the other.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:16 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
Location: schreckbabble.wordpress.com/
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Frankly -- I'm with sevenarts. I much prefer Mouchette.

Although I love the film I can certainly understand his complaints, as they are not off base or wild or even incomprehensible... putting up with these sorts of films requires a very specific sort of disposition. I'd warn him off of the above recommendation for MOUCHETTE, which is even more monotone and devoid of varietal shades & nuance. Just a pure piece of atonal suffering.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:26 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 11:53 am
Bresson is difficult as a motherfucker, but this DVD is fantastic for the Bresson newbie. The Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson special feature is excellent, having interviews with Godard and Bresson, both of whom I could watch speak for hours.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:45 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
HerrSchreck wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Frankly -- I'm with sevenarts. I much prefer Mouchette.

Although I love the film I can certainly understand his complaints, as they are not off base or wild or even incomprehensible... putting up with these sorts of films requires a very specific sort of disposition. I'd warn him off of the above recommendation for MOUCHETTE, which is even more monotone and devoid of varietal shades & nuance. Just a pure piece of atonal suffering.

You'd think one would have the same sort of reaction to both of these -- but, for whatever reason, Mouchette works for me while Balthazar is (ultimately) annoying. Not sure why.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:03 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:56 pm
Location: Dublin
French completist wrote
Quote:
For the ones who read French, I highly recommend the 2007 book Jeune fille by Anne Wiazemsky (Collection Blanche - Gallimard ISBN 2070774090), which is a personal account of the shooting of Au hasard Balthazar with Robert Bresson.

Very interesting reading.


This apparently is something of an unexploded bomb....

Quote:
Printemps 1965. Anne, la narratrice, a dix-huit ans quand elle rencontre le cinéaste Robert Bresson. Cette entrevue a été organisée par son amie Florence, laquelle tenait le premier rôle dans Le procès de Jeanne d'Arc. Persuadée que Anne est l'actrice idéale pour interpréter Marie dans Au hasard Balthazar, le prochain film du maître, Florence la pousse à auditionner malgré sa complète inexpérience. Au fil des séances d'essai, la présence d'Anne, son attitude, sa voix convainquent Robert Bresson de la nécessité de ce choix. Mais Anne est encore mineure, et il s'agit de faire accepter le projet à son grand-père, François Mauriac. Heureusement pour elle, ce dernier mesure toute l'importance de cette opportunité.
Pendant plus d'un mois, Anne va faire l'expérience d'un plateau de cinéma. Robert Bresson, lui, instaure un jeu ambigu, entre séduction et domination. Bien que repoussant ses avances, Anne subit son emprise psychologique et le magnétisme de son génie artistique. L'actrice sent qu'une métamorphose s'opère en elle, suscitée par des désirs puissants mais confus, qui exacerbent sa sensibilité.

Un week-end, elle décide de coucher avec un jeune type de l'équipe, afin de calmer son hypersensibilité. Une étape fondamentale vient d'être franchie. Son caractère s'affirme, elle ose tenir tête à Bresson, renversant le rapport de séduction en sa faveur, tout en découvrant, jour après jour, la magie du métier d'acteur. À la fin de l'été, le film terminé, Anne sait qu'un avenir est désormais possible.

La narration est dense, tendue, précise dans la description des émotions qui habitent cette jeune fille devenue, en l'espace d'un été, une « jeune femme ». Ce roman initiatique nous entraîne au passage dans l'univers singulier du septième art et nous fait découvrir l'un des créateurs les plus talentueux du cinéma français, qui aura été, pour la narratrice, à la fois un Pygmalion et un étrange séducteur.



Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:33 pm
"un étrange séducteur" indeed.. thanks very much for posting this ellipsis.

I am not sure if Anne knew at that time that that would be her
first and last collaboration with Bresson.. As a principle, he didn't
want to work with his "models" more than once.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:15 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 11:49 am
Location: San Francisco
My French is piss poor. Could someone please summarize the gist of the above quote so the ignorant among us can learn something from it?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:52 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:22 pm
Location: UK
Quick précis: Bresson's direction gave her the screaming thigh-sweats and she ended up losing her virginity to a member of the crew during the shoot. The experience gave her the confidence to respond to Bresson as an equal and she began to enjoy acting.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
The original prose is so purple it's violet!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:30 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:06 am
Location: CHICAGO
I saw this film again last night and it was still able to fascinate me.
Of the years, bresson have become one of my favorite film maker and i really love his style of film making.
My first reaction with this film was kind of challenging.
First of, it seem bresson is not really concern with acting or lack of it.
Which took me a little while to get used to it.
Secondly, the characters in this movie are really unlikeable either, which was a hugh challenge for me. It is such a unusual film, and for people who is not familiar with his directing style might find his films too difficult to watch. Since this film, i have watched pickpocket , l`argent , lancelot of the lake, mouchette, a man escaped, dairy of a country priest and les dames du bois de boulogne and was not disappointed by them. I haven`t seen and really looking forward to watch the devil probably, a gentle creature and trial of joan of arc.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 135 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection