Sunday, 1 January 2012

Robert Bresson

"Robert Bresson was a French film director known for his spiritual, ascetic style."

Recently, I have been fascinated by this director's work. Bresson was born in 1901, or 1907, apparently, this differs depending on the source. This alone tells you there is going to be an interested life behind the man, and there is. Namely, it's that he was a POW during WW2, and spent 18 months in the camp. This experience went on to inspire his first film, A Man Escaped.

You may find my entry on Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest, which was my first Bresson experience, and ultimately a bad one. This was mainly due to the religious nature of the film, which I found extremely difficult to relate to. I just didn't appreciate delicate nature of his work. I do think about that film, and how the priest's character is so unparelleled, the characterisation, the acting, and the narrative tools Bresson employs have had an affect on me, because there's nothing quite like it.

I have now seen Balthazar, and Pickpocket. I can tell you that I hope to rewatch Diary of a Country Priest, perhaps after seeing more of Bresson's catalogue. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these films, Pickpocket especially, and hope to make posts for both.

After reading and watching interviews, and seeing the two aforementioned films, I can say agree that Bresson's artistic focus is to separate the theatre and the stage performance from his actors. He uses non-professionals to portray his themes, and I've never seen anything so natural by the lead actor in Pickpocket, nor have I seen such a natural way of portraying themes in film.

A lot of people have called Bresson "anti-expression", but I disagree, it's this very subtle use of emotion in his actors which works remarkably with the themes he portrays in his films. He explores themes in the realms of salvation, redemption, and ultimately, the eminence of Bresson's work does what I think all art should strive to do, to try and reveal the human soul via metaphysical ascendancy, which Bresson proves we can only do by stripping away "performance", the almost materialistic commercialism behind cinema, namely the way actors act, as if it on a theatre stage.

It's the pure elegance of his work, where every frame is vital to the film, his reconstruction of the actor's role in cinema, it's this cultivated, graceful approach that leads to such a dominating impact of art that leave me in awe.

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