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Robert Bresson (1907 - 1999)

Lifespan: 1907 - 1999

Related: director - minimalism in cinema - French cinema

"For myself, there is something which makes suicide possible—not even possible but absolutely necessary: it is the vision of the void, the feeling of void which is impossible to bear." --Quandt, James (ed.), Robert Bresson, Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2. 1998 .

Films: Pickpocket (1959)

Robert Bresson has a preference for austere staging and lack of acting.

Influenced: Michael Haneke


Robert Bresson (September 25, 1907–December 18, 1999) was a French film director and master of minimalism.

What is most striking about the cinema of Bresson is the apparent lack of acting. Bresson believed that there was a convention in movies regarding what the spectactor should feel or think, puncuated by music, editing and acting; and that by reducing these techniques or codes to a minimum, he could achieve greater emotional responses from the audience. Instead of having an actor's expression telling the spectator how to feel, the spectator him or herself would be able to simply feel, given the context. Bresson reportedly hired non-actors and shot scenes over and over until they were completely devoided of acting, and the actors would simply say their lines and perform physical actions. The emotional response is often more realistic than usually experienced in cinema. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bresson [Oct 2004]

L'Argent (1983) - Robert Bresson

L'Argent (1983) - Robert Bresson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Robert Bresson always claimed his films are about hope and redemption, but so many end in death or suicide that it's a struggle to reconcile the statement with his films. His final film, based on Leo Tolstoy's story The Counterfeit Note, is no different. It's the harrowing tale of an innocent man, Yvon (Christian Patey), whose victimization at the hands of an arrogant upper-class delinquent and a greedy shop owner sends him on a downward spiral into a life of crime. The once-happy husband and father turns bitter, angry, self-pitying, and ultimately coldly brutal in the chilling conclusion. It's Bresson's most expansive film and biggest canvas, weaving the paths of numerous characters across Yvon's journey, but he edits with jackrabbit jumps, running headlong through the story with a painful feeling of inevitability. On its simplest level, Yvon's story is an elaborate chain of cause and effect, the ripples of a selfish act resulting in the fall of a proud man and the destruction of his soul, and Bresson presents every link in that chain with precise, cold clarity. There is little hope evidenced in L'Argent, but there is powerful sense of loss and sadness in this portrait of a society so obsessed with money that it loses its humanity. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

See also: French cinema - 1983

The Devil, Probably (1977) - Robert Bresson

In search of favorite films

The Devil, Probably (1977) - Robert Bresson
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Like many of the late films of Robert Bresson, The Devil, Probably is, as the title suggests, a dark story of disaffected French youth in modern Paris: four disillusioned young adults who wander city streets and hole up in tiny apartments while serving witness to society's destruction of the planet. Bresson described the work as "a film about the evils of money, a source of great evil in the world whether for unnecessary armaments or the senseless pollution of the environment." It may not be the bleakest film in his canon--the honors surely belong to his final work L'Argent--but it is certainly one of his most depressing. Charles, the womanizing ringleader of the group, is haunted by an overwhelming sense of nihilism that finally envelops him. Newsreel clips of ecological disasters and atomic destruction punctuate the film and the backdrop of a busy but cold, impersonal, mercenary Paris is Bresson's least flattering portrait of the city. Many consider this a minor film in Bresson's career and it remains one of the hardest to appreciate--his expressionless performers and rigorous, distant style makes it hard to identify or even like the characters. Furthermore, the slim story (inspired by a contemporary newspaper report) offers little of the narrative complexity and resonant conflicts that enrich his literary adaptations. But it is at times a beautiful film, and it's clear that Bresson has invested himself in its sad desperation. --Sean Axmaker

Dennis Cooper's favorite film, he said recently, and posted on Bresson here and here, here.

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le Diable probablement [Sept 2006]

See also: 1977

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