Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson – Au hasard Balthazar (1966) (HD)

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The story of a mistreated donkey and the people around him. A study on saintliness and a sister piece to Bresson’s Mouchette.

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In the French countryside near the Pyrenees, a baby donkey is adopted by young children – Jacques and his sisters, who live on a farm. They baptize the donkey (and christen it Balthazar) along with Marie, Jacques’ childhood sweetheart, whose father is the teacher at the small school next-door. When one of Jacques’ sisters dies, his family vacates the farm, and Marie’s family take it over in a loose arrangement. The donkey is given away to local farmhands who work it very hard. Years pass until Balthazar is involved in an accident and runs off, finding its way back to Marie, who is now a teenager. But her father gets involved in legal wrangles over the farm and the donkey is given away to a local bakery for delivery work. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Journal d’un curé de campagne aka Diary of a Country Priest [+ commentary] (1951)

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A new priest (Claude Laydu) arrives in the French country village of Ambricourt to attend to his first parish. The apathetic and hostile rural congregation rejects him immediately. Through his diary entries, the suffering young man relays a crisis of faith that threatens to drive him away from the village and from God. With his fourth film, Robert Bresson began to implement his stylistic philosophy as a filmmaker, stripping away all inessential elements from his compositions, the dialogue and the music, exacting a purity of image and sound. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Procès de Jeanne d’Arc AKA The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962)

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Trial of Joan of Arc opens to the austere, fragmented image of the hurried footsteps of an indistinguishable figure dressed in a black robe. Carrying a parchment into the vestibule of a chapel, an unidentified woman delivers a personal statement on her daughter’s religious upbringing and death at the hands of the church, visibly supported by two sympathetic advocates. The somber and official tone of the grieving mother’s testament is subsequently reflected in the demeanor of the accused, Jeanne d’Arc (Florence Delay), who is first introduced through a shot of her manacled hands as she places them on an opened Bible before beginning her sworn testimony in front of the presiding judge, Bishop Cauchon (Jean-Claude Fourneau). Read More »

Robert Bresson – L’argent AKA Money (1983)

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In his ruthlessly clear-eyed final film, French master Robert Bresson pushed his unique blend of spiritual rumination and formal rigor to a new level of astringency. Transposing a Tolstoy novella to contemporary Paris, L’argent follows a counterfeit bill as it originates as a prop in a schoolboy prank, then circulates like a virus among the corrupt and the virtuous alike before landing with a young truck driver and leading him to incarceration and violence. With brutal economy, Bresson constructs his unforgiving vision of original sin out of starkly perceived details, rooting his characters in a dehumanizing material world that withholds any hope of transcendence Read More »

Robert Bresson – Journal d’un curé de campagne aka Diary of a Country Priest [+commentary] (1951)

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A new priest (Claude Laydu) arrives in the French country village of Ambricourt to attend to his first parish. The apathetic and hostile rural congregation rejects him immediately. Through his diary entries, the suffering young man relays a crisis of faith that threatens to drive him away from the village and from God. With his fourth film, Robert Bresson began to implement his stylistic philosophy as a filmmaker, stripping away all inessential elements from his compositions, the dialogue and the music, exacting a purity of image and sound. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne AKA The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne (1945)

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“Les dames du Bois de Boulogne is a 1945 film directed by Robert Bresson. It is a modern adaptation of a section of Diderot’s Jacques le fataliste (1796), telling the story of a man who is tricked into marrying a former prostitute. The title means “the women of the Bois de Boulogne”, a park in Paris. Les Dames was Bresson’s second feature and is an early example of his dramatic experimentation and innovations in reducing dramatic form to its bare essentials, signifying his status as an auteur, rather than simply a metteur en scène. It is also his last film to feature a cast entirely composed of professional actors.The film’s editing rhythms are similar to Bresson’s later work. However, while his later work often reflects Bresson’s personal Catholic beliefs and Christian-intellectual mentality, Les Dames is a more secular work. The redemptive ending is more secular than spiritual although it does establish Bresson’s later, more refined, thematic obsessions with redemption and salvation.” Read More »

Robert Bresson – Au hasard Balthazar aka Balthazar [Criterion] (1966)

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Jim Ridley wrote:
With exquisite, heartrending calm, Bresson’s 1966 masterpiece Au Hasard Balthazar lays out the life of a donkey, from first brays to final rest. Baptized Balthazar, the donkey goes through passages of life parallel to his early owner, a farmer’s daughter named Marie (played as an adult by Anne Wiazemsky).
Together and separately, they experience the full spectrum of man’s failings: Balthazar is kicked by passing thugs, beaten by an owner, and eventually used for theft, while Marie is seduced, abandoned and ultimately assaulted. Yet while Bresson’s vision is harsh, it’s also redemptive, even merciful. It ends on a note of quiet transcendence, as if to say all suffering, no matter how grave, cannot last. Read More »