Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson – Notes On Cinematography (1977)

This is not a book about cinematography. Cinematography is what Bresson regards as valid film making, as opposed to cinema which is just photographing a play, or the theatre, which is just lies told on a stage (or something). This book contains all the little notes, ideas and bon mots that Bresson jotted down over the years. Some are insightful, most are quite arrogant and dismissive, and quite a few are a bit bonkers. Anyway it’s an interesting look into the mind of a master and fairly short (although that didn’t stop it from being a pain in the arse to scan).

Originally written in French (Notes sur le cinématographe), this is the English translation by Jonathon Griffin. Read More »

Tony Pipolo – Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film (2010)


Perhaps the most highly regarded French filmmaker after Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson created a new kind of cinema through meticulous refinement of the form’s grammatical and expressive possibilities. In thirteen features over a forty-year career, he held to an uncompromising moral vision and aesthetic rigor that remain unmatched. Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film is the first comprehensive study to give equal attention to the films, their literary sources, and psycho-biographical aspects of the work. Concentrating on the films’ cinematographic, imagistic, narrative, and thematic structures, Pipolo provides a nuanced analysis of each film-including nearly 100 illustrations-elucidating Bresson’s unique style as it evolved from the impassioned Les Anges du péche to such disconsolate meditations on the world as The Devil Probably and L’Argent. Special attention is also given to psychosexual aspects of the films that are usually neglected. Bresson has long needed a thoroughgoing treatment by a critic worthy to the task: he gets it here. From it emerges a provocative portrait of an extraordinary artist whose moral engagement and devotion to the craft of filmmaking are without equal. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Mouchette (1967)


From the Criterion Website:

Robert Bresson plumbs great reservoirs of feeling with Mouchette, one of the most searing portraits of human desperation ever put on film. Faced with a dying mother, an absent, alcoholic father, and a baby brother in need of care, the teenage Mouchette seeks solace in nature and daily routine, a respite from her economic and pubescent turmoil. An essential work of French filmmaking, Bresson’s hugely empathetic drama elevates its trapped protagonist into one of the cinema’s great tragic figures. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Journal d’un curé de campagne AKA Diary of a Country Priest (1951)


Robert Bresson, in his fourth film, explores one man’s crisis of faith through a simple story of frequent narration where 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 his internal theological confrontation that threatens to drive him away from the village… and from God. Director Bresson began to implement his stylistic philosophy as a filmmaker, stripping away all non-essential elements from his compositions, the dialogue and the music, exacting a purity of image and sound. This film language leaves us with nothing except to bond with our protagonist. This can be seen as cinema in one of its purist forms. Read More »

Robert Bresson – Lancelot du Lac AKA Lancelot of the Lake (1974)


Images Journal, by Gary Morris
Moving along to 1972, and into much darker territory, we come to Lancelot of the Lake. This was a long-cherished project for Bresson, one he began preparing before shooting A Man Escaped but did not finish until nearly two decades later. For this proposed chronicle of the aftermath of the Knights of the Round Table’s search for the Holy Grail, Bresson hoped to make two versions, one English and one French. He failed to secure financing for this, but no matter. With a Lancelot this good, one is enough.
Read More »

Robert Bresson – Un metteur en ordre (1966)

Image Hosted by

Un metteur en ordre: Robert Bresson (62 min.) is from a 1966 French television broadcast of Pour le plaisir, a cultural television program. This episode concentrates on Au Hasard Balthazar and includes interviews with Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Marguerite Duras and members of the film’s cast. Bresson explains the origin of the film’s title, while his contemporaries describe their reactions to the film. Several extensive clips from the film are presented, after which Bresson and his cast members offer their opinions of the meaning or consequences of those scenes. Read More »