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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 4:33 pm 
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I'm sure it's mentioned somewhere on the CC Joan disc, or perhaps in My Metier. The impression I got was that the film was very much what Dreyer's was expected to be (given that it was about as expensive), that is, a conventionally spectacular and patriotic biopic. I don't really have anything to add, except that, like you, I'd love to see it - it sounds great.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Indeed I've been interested in seeing that film as well for years-- I've heard it has quite a bit to commend it.

I don't necessarily know that IMDB says that it's been "recently" restored.. it just says that it's been restored by Renee Lichtig into a composite from a number of prints... and she died in '07.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 5:54 pm 
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Wrong thread, but let's start fantasizing about a new CC edition of Dreyer's Passion, including both cuts of the film and the restored Merveilleuse Vie.

Or a Joan box set with Dreyer's, de Gastyne's, Rossellini's, Bresson's and Rivette's versions all present and correct.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 6:05 pm 
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Well, Alexander Korda got an Eclipse box just by choosing the business of Film Producer as a career... Joan had a suitcase phone to god and saved France on top of that.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 6:08 pm 
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zedz wrote:
Wrong thread, but let's start fantasizing about a new CC edition of Dreyer's Passion, including both cuts of the film and the restored Merveilleuse Vie.

Or a Joan box set with Dreyer's, de Gastyne's, Rossellini's, Bresson's and Rivette's versions all present and correct.

And an empty space to slide in the Fleming film


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:24 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:19 pm
I've read on various articles and forums that Bresson once referred to himself as a "Christian-atheist." I've never seen anyone attribute when and where and in what context it came from. Does anyone know what interview he said this in? Is it in text or video or radio and is it available?


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:28 am 
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you forgot the Preminger!


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Daniel B. wrote:
I've read on various articles and forums that Bresson once referred to himself as a "Christian-atheist." I've never seen anyone attribute when and where and in what context it came from. Does anyone know what interview he said this in? Is it in text or video or radio and is it available?


"When I see a tree I see that God exists."

-Bresson, 1973

http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/ ... eview.html


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:28 pm 
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That was 1973.

By 1983 Bresson had made L'argent.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:32 am
I like Bresson, but that quote is pretty terrible and not, I think, very instructive of his films actually. Unless perhaps you imagine god as a complete void.

I always thought the talk of Bresson's "spirituality" and his being grouped with other "spiritual" directors like Bergman and Tarkovsky pretty reductive. And the sentiment expressed in the above quote seems horribly trite and antiquated to me. It's certainly not related to what I think of when I think of Bresson's greatness, but to each his own.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:13 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:19 pm
Tark wrote:
Daniel B. wrote:
I've read on various articles and forums that Bresson once referred to himself as a "Christian-atheist." I've never seen anyone attribute when and where and in what context it came from. Does anyone know what interview he said this in? Is it in text or video or radio and is it available?

"When I see a tree I see that God exists."

-Bresson, 1973

http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/ ... eview.html

I'm familiar with interviews in which Bresson explicitly states that he is a believer and his films are religious, including the making-of documentaries on Criterion's Mouchette DVD. That's why I've raised this question, and I've yet to find anyone who can answer it.

If you type in 'Robert Bresson Christian atheist' in Google, you'll find several articles and essays that in passing claim Bresson was a self-claimed "Christian-atheist." My problem with them all is their lack of attribution. I've never seen anyone provide when and where and in what context Bresson allegedly said this, which makes it a very suspect claim in my eyes.

If Bresson did make the statement, I would be very interested in reading or hearing the full interview with its complete context. A series of online articles merely copying and pasting from one another that Bresson once referred to himself as a Christian-atheist raises some concern about the passing and acceptance of potentially false information.

If anyone has any information on this matter, please share. I'm very curious about this.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:19 pm
James Quandt references a Bresson essay, Rhythm Comes from Within, in his Pickpocket commentary. I wasn't able to find this online; does anyone know if it's been published in English in any book?


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:01 pm 
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Daniel B. wrote:
James Quandt references a Bresson essay, Rhythm Comes from Within, in his Pickpocket commentary. I wasn't able to find this online; does anyone know if it's been published in English in any book?

That is, apparently, an essay by Bresson printed in Rediscovering French Film, edited by Mary Lea Bandy, published in 1983.

EDIT: "Essay" is very generous. Here it is, in its entirety:
Robert Bresson wrote:
It is the interior that commands. I know that this could seem paradoxical in an art which is all exterior. But I have seen films in which everyone runs, which are slow. And others in which the characters don't move, which are fast. I have ascertained that the rhythm of the images is powerless to correct any interior slowness. Only the knots which tie and untie in the interior of characters give a film its movement, its real movement. It is this movement which I strive to portray through some thing--or some combination of things--which may not only be dialogue....

The sound film has, above all, invented silence. I find explanatory dialogue marvelous and convenient. But the ideal would be, rather, that the dialogue would accompany the characters, just as a sleigh bell accompanies a horse, or buzzing accompanies a bee....

It's a nice little book, but I think Bandy had a thing for Gérard Philipe (and perhaps rightly so); the book is full of stills from his films.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:36 am 
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Matt wrote:
That is, apparently, an essay by Bresson printed in Rediscovering French Film, edited by Mary Lea Bandy, published in 1983.

EDIT: "Essay" is very generous. Here it is, in its entirety

Thanks for sharing, Matt. I'm sure I've read this text in this form before, but can't remember where... Could I be a pest and request a page ref?


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:54 am 
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foggy eyes wrote:
Matt wrote:
That is, apparently, an essay by Bresson printed in Rediscovering French Film, edited by Mary Lea Bandy, published in 1983.

EDIT: "Essay" is very generous. Here it is, in its entirety

Thanks for sharing, Matt. I'm sure I've read this text in this form before, but can't remember where... Could I be a pest and request a page ref?

spookily I read this thread with said volume in a pile in front of me. It is page 155


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:58 am 
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Zazou dans le Metro wrote:
spookily I read this thread with said volume in a pile in front of me. It is page 155

Thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:54 am 

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A question about The Devil, Probably: is the AR of 1.33 the actual OAR? Thanks in advance.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:52 pm 
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I can't say definitively what the OAR should be (probably 1.66:1), but I know it is definitely not 1.33:1.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:05 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:19 pm
Just now saw where you posted this. Thank you very much.

With regards to the book, aside from that "essay," is there any other substantial Bresson content that would justify a purchase?


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:45 pm 
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Saw three new-to-me Bresson movies at the just-concluded retrospective of his work at the Film Forum theater in NYC (all 35mm prints):

A MAN ESCAPED (1956). Bresson constructs a prison escape movie out of his and Andre Devigny's (on whom the protagonist's story is based) personal WWII experiences with as pared-down and minimalist a cinematic approach as we've come to expect from the man. Even the supporting performers are in and out of sight faster than Bresson can dissolve between shots to imply (rather than show) physical violence and/or the slow passage of time. Love the way Bresson either keeps the camera away from the action (especially during the first escape attempt from the car) or repeats the same camera angles over and over again (the conversations with the old man outside their cell windows). For the first 10 min. I was annoyed at Fontaine (Alan Alda-lookalike François Leterrier) and his constant stating-the-obvious dull monologues. But then I completely got sucked in the little details, menusha, routines and you-are-there observations of a man determined against all odds (and willing to die) to escape his Nazi captors. The sound in "A Man Escaped" is incredible considering we spend 90% of the movie indoor with Fontaine in his cell. Without showing us anything (or very little) Bresson constructs out of whistles, train engines, bicycle gears, people laughing/talking in the distance and other sounds a world worth risking one's life for. At the end of this screening (the very last Bresson showing of a two-week retrospective) the entire theater broke out in unprompted, enthusiastic applause. Still not sure if we were applauding our heroes' successful escape or the two-week chance to see Bresson movies on the big screen that prompted the applause. :)

THE DEVIL, PROBABLY (1977). After the novelty of seeing a Bresson movie in color wears off (about 5 minutes in) you realize that, by this time in his life, the creator of "Au hasard Balthazar" and "Mouchette" had given up hope for the humanity he still found in some characters/situations in his previous movies. Bresson seemed, however distance he tried to keep from his subjects in earlier works, to choose honorable or audience-friendly subjects (a donkey, a little girl, a country priest, etc.). Through Charles (Antoinne Moinner, who looks like a model for a Calvin Klein perfume commercial) and his circle of good-looking but erudite-to-a-fault friends straight out of CW casting (Tina Irissari's Alberte, Laetitia Carcano's Edwige and Henri de Maublanc's Michel) Bresson challenges himself and us. The world this movie is in environmental/war/poverty/social crisis, and Bresson's cold and going-to-hell attittude justifies both the self-destructing efforts of Charles as well as the passivity of his friends. The lead character's inevitable march toward the fate Bresson shows us at the start of the movie is Bressonian enough even if the protagonist is aware of being in one (unlike the 'innocence' of previous characters trapped in a world they didn't grasp). Not even a "love triangle" between Charles, Alberte and Edwige carries narrative weight beyond showing us how desillusioned with 'normalcy' these youths are. Since Bresson made it clear early in his career that he only saw actors as 'models' to carry out his observations more than living/breathing characters, the typical argument that an old director doesn't understand contemporary youth doesn't apply to "The Devil, Probably." These aren't meant to be real young Frenchmen circa 1977 (like the one's at a political rally that Charles and his friends attend and quickly leave... lovely little sign of how seriously Bresson viewed politics in the grand scheme of life/society), but French youth as Bresson perceived them (internally) to be soaking up the crummy world around them. The scene between Charles and a psychiatrist (Régis Hanrion) during the intervention is both sad, hilarious (almost by design, which for Bresson is unusual) and the beginning of the end for the former's self-imposed guilt trip for not wanting to contribute to a society he doesn't want to be a part of.

As a former Catholic the ending struck me as a mini-masterpiece of viewer interpretation. Most people just see a youth in revolt taking his self-destructive actions to their only logical extreme. Even though Charles
[Reveal] Spoiler:
arranges for his friend to shoot him, technically it wasn't Charles who pulls the gun trigger. His drug-addicted friend did, at Charles' behest but in that next-to-last shot you could see some malice and intent in the shooter. So, somewhere in the back of Charles' mind, asking his friend to shoot him was like an afterlife insurance policy that shows that deep within him he still believed in (or was afraid of) God and being denied an afterlife because Charles committed suirice. But, if there's a shred of belief in God in Charles (which he rejected with every fiber of his intellectualizing being), how could he have swindled his drug-addicted friend to commit the even bigger sin of killing another human being? Either way, Charles is responsible for either his own death or the spiritual downfall of his killer.
"The Devil, Probably" is a bleak movie, but not a boring one and it has more to tell in any five of its 95 minutes that most Hollywood movies put together in a year say about the complexity of the human experience. At Film Forum it was projected at 1:33:1 (same as "A Man Escaped").

L'ARGENT (1983) was shown at 1:66:1 AR. If "The Devil, Probably" was the world going to hell then "L'argent" is hell on Earth. The old saying 'money is the root of all evil' (which I don't remember was used in the movie itself) starts here with some forged bills that start a chain reaction that results, many years and unrelated events later, in the deaths of many innocent people (and, since this is a Bresson movie in which even the life of a wife beater husband has some worth, the guilty too) at the hands of a once-normal person driven mad by life's circumstances. But is
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the employee that lies in court to convict the wrong man for a crime he didn't commit
any more responsible than
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the wife of the condemned man that abandons him when he goes away to prison
for actions beyond their control? "L'argent" is Bresson at his most nihilist, pessimist and, ironically, at his most liberated state given this was his last movie. Like Ozu moving the camera late in his career, the sight and sounds of a car chase in a Bresson movie shocked the hell out of me. The Bressonian cut-away-from-a-violent-action-that-makes-the-unseen-act-feel-more-violent effect gets the added impact of gore, making this relatively-tame French movie every bit as disturbing (in its own way) as "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer." The same way Bresson absolves the sins of his catatonic youths in "The Devil, Probably" by portraying a modern world that doesn't regard people as individuals with humanity, Bresson doesn't seem to relish his cinematic portrayal in "L'argent" of how easy it is for society and life to turn a once-productive citizen into a monster. It's Bresson's final, and ultimately fatalistic, cinematic portrayal of what happens when the presence/absence of God in man's life results in a chain reaction of crap for everyone involved. When the movie ended the entire sold-out theater remained seated in silence for a full minute after the lights were turned on and, gradually, began leaving the theater without saying a word. The closest I've been part of something similar was after a theatrical BAM screening of "Salo" on July 4th a couple of years ago.

Watching this and "The Devil, Probably" I was fascinated by the minimalist film language at work (the focus on people opening/closing doors over and over, the camera holding on to the empty spaces where a character was standing a few seconds before, all-envolving sound to create mood/place, mannequin-like acting, etc.) which Bresson by this time had perfected into a science. Bluntly put, if you don't know 'Bressonian' film language it's impossible to enjoy many of his movies because to a layman Bresson's movies will seem weird and off (especially his post-60's work). While there was a part of me thrilled at knowing I was part of a small group of lucky cinephiles that can appreciate Bresson's work it also saddened me that, except for places like this forum, I cannot share my passion and love for Bresson with many friends and family members (YMMV). They're normal people that cannot even begin to wrap their heads around the ideas and styles that Bresson brought to his movies. And this makes me a sad panda!


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:36 am 
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Just in case you missed it the first time, the complete Robert Bresson retrospective will be showing at BAMcinématek in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, NY, and once again, all films will be projected in 35mm.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:23 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
HerrSchreck wrote:
Most filmmakers are concerned with storytelling-- the emotional impact of a tale well told. And perhaps the moral statement within aforesaid. The filmmaker of the Bressonian/Tarkovskian type, however, seems to me to be more concerned with duplicating for the viewer, onscreen, the artistic sensations they themselves receive daily by life's input. A walk down a street, across a field, five minutes staring at an discarded old paper cup on an abandoned contry road, a conversation with mother, etc, impacts them in a way that has, since they were young, prompted within them an urge to create... create a means of passing that experience along. They have the urge to propagate, to procreate-- they feel the life process in a fashion that they know (or believe) is unlike that of their neighbor.. and their art is their method of explaining why they are the way they are, trying to express the best they can--by duplicating-- what it is they are experiencing that excites them so, what it is that they think that they have within them that is a valuable currency, that by their obvious self-posession they're not just pompous or mad dreamers lost on a tangent.

This is not to say that the two men did not have strong social concerns, did not construct plot-driven narratives-- indeed these plots and narratives are very important quite simply because they are something that they themselves were involved with. They're part of the whole project for self-revelation, vehicles for the relief of communication out of what is probably, in p2p terms, very often a lonely and unreached interior world.

I'm aware this post is quite old, but I just wanted to quote it and say that it's one of the most astute and illuminating things I've read on this forum. As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I utterly, totally, painfully understand the state of mind you seem to be ascribing to Bresson and Tarkovsky (of course I'm not at all comparing myself with them artistically, just perhaps psychologically). Thanks, Schreck, for putting into words something I've had at the tip of my tongue for quite some time but never have been able to actually verbalize satisfactorily. A most beautiful post.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Thanks much O.Y., this forum has had some great moments over the years, and I'm happy to see it being sifted through and appreciated.

That aforementioned passing along from artist to viewer the essence of their life experience, the aesthetic manner that daily input is processed and received-a sensory editorialization in the abstract- it's a real gift when pulled off fruitfully. Another director who seems to well pass along the aura of his interior life is- and it's no accident that he is often grouped together with Bresson--is Ozu. His so-called "pillow shots" are far more than editorial connective tissue establishing location... They communicate over arching nuances of senses of Place and it's delicate mingling with the life experience. . .turning a mundane view of some seemingly bland undifferentiated hills, or a simple train station into something very special, revisited on sentimental trips and foreverin dreams.


Then you get a guy like Paradjanov, whose mind is so operationally unique that he can only give us peeks into his inner mind via the most symbolic, abstracted means. . .


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:22 pm 
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Dreyer, Kirsanoff, and many others come to my mind when I read the above. It seems to me it also ties in with this other discussion from a few years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Bresson
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:07 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
repeat wrote:
To my knowledge it's never been released on DVD - it's a similar situation to Bresson's best two films

You're the first person I've ever met who thinks that Une femme douce and Quatre nuits d'un rêveur are "Bresson's best two films", or anywhere close. The first did very little for me (I preferred the Polish animator Piotr Dumała's crepuscular animated version), and while the second was delightful (not a word I'm often minded to use with Bresson), it's decidedly minor.

Obviously, I'd much prefer to have them in circulation (especially Quatre nuits), but Pickpocket, Balthazar and L'Argent they most definitely ain't. And I saw both in good 35mm prints in the context of a complete Bresson retrospective, so I'm not downgrading them because of poor presentation.

I know it seems an outré thing to say, but it's an honest personal preference (with just a tiny pinch of rooting for the less appreciated). Generally with Bresson it seems that people tend to have wildly differing favourites - although admittedly there is a strong consensus for the ones you mentioned plus A Man Escaped. I'd have a hard time defending my preference in any "objective" sense, but I'd rate those two on a shared first place with The Devil, Probably, with only a marginal difference to Balthazar, Pickpocket and A Man Escaped. (The only ones that haven't done much for me were Lancelot du Lac and Jeanne d'Arc, but I've seen people quoting both of those as their favourites as well - look no further than the S&S 2012 poll)

For me there's some unplaceable emotional quality in those two (or three) films that's maybe missing or less pronounced in the earlier ones, and also in L'Argent, which goes kind of over the top in the other direction - for me these seem to strike the balance. I can't really analyze it further, but I do wonder if these two would be viewed as minor films if more people had had the chance to see them a couple of times.


Last edited by repeat on Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:10 am, edited 3 times in total.

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