Wednesday, July 05, 2006

You're The One I Won't soon forget, it was my goal discovery

Robert Bresson (September 25, 1901–December 18, 1999) was a French film director well known for his mastery of minimalist film-making.


Initially a painter and photographer, Bresson made his first short film, Les affaires publiques (Public Affairs) in 1934. During World War II, he spent over a year in a prisoner-of-war camp.

In 1943, Bresson made his first feature, Les Anges du péché (Angels of Sin), with dialogue by Jean Giraudoux. His next project, Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945), (Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne) was based on Denis Diderot's Jacques Le Fataliste with dialogue by Jean Cocteau, the latter providing one of the film's immemorial lines: "There is no love there is only proof of it."

Two of Bresson's well-known films, Journal d'un curé de campagne (1950) (Diary of a Country Priest) and L'Argent (1983) (Money), exemplify the director's preference for austere staging and measured acting.


French director Robert Bresson (1901-1999) is often referred to as a 'patron saint' of cinema, not only for the strong Catholic themes found throughout his oeuvre, but also for his notable contributions to the art of film. His original directoral language can be detected through his use of sound, associating selected sounds with images or characters; paring dramatic form to its essentials by the spare use of music; and through his infamous 'actor-model' methods of directing his almost exclusively non-professional actors.

Bresson's early artistic focus was to separate the language of cinema from the theatre, which often heavily involves the actor's performance to drive the work. With his 'actor-model' technique, Bresson's actors were required to repeat multiple takes of each scene until all semblances of 'performance' were stripped away, leaving a stark effect that registers as both subtle and raw, and one that can only be found in the cinema.

Some feel that Bresson's Catholic upbringing and Jansenist belief-system lie behind the thematic structure of most of his films. Recurring themes under this interpretation include salvation, redemption, defining and revealing the human soul, and metaphysical transcendence of a limiting and materialistic world. An example is his 1955 feature A Man Escaped, where a seemingly simple plot of a prisoner of war's escape can be read as a metaphor for the mysterious process of salvation.

Bresson's films can also be understood as critiques of French society and the wider world, with each revealing the director's sympathetic if unsentimental view on its victims. That the main characters of Bresson's most contemporary films, L'Argent and The Devil, Probably (1977), reach similarly unsettling conclusions about life indicates to some the director's feelings towards the culpability of modern society in the dissolution of individuals. Indeed, of an earlier protagonist he said, "Mouchette offers evidence of misery and cruelty. She is found everywhere: wars, concentration camps, tortures, assassinations."

In 1976, Bresson published Notes sur le Cinématographe, in which he argued that cinematography is the higher function of cinema: whereas a movie is in essence "only" filmed theatre, cinematography is an attempt to create a new language of moving images and sounds via montage.

He has influenced a number of other film-makers, including Jim Jarmusch and Paul Schrader, whose book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (ISBN 0306803356) includes a detailed critical analysis.


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