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. —The Criterion Collection
Often described as a “painter” of films, French director Robert Bresson was one of cinema’s greatest anomalies. He directed only 13 films over the course of 40 years, but these films were in a category all their own, minimalist works that tended towards radical (and sometimes controversial) reinterpretations of such classical sources as Diderot, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy. An expert manipulator of narrative incident, Bresson focused on seemingly incidental details of the stories he told and used amateur actors (whom he called ‘models’) lacking any trace of theatricality, creating searching meditations on the quality of transcendence, spirituality, and alienation. Of the artistic influences inherent in his work – perhaps most apparent in his belief that the cinema is a fusion of music and painting, not the theatre and photography – Bresson once said “Art is not a luxury, but a vital necessity.”
The year of Bresson’s birth has often been subject to debate; his biographer, Philippe… read more
The profound sadness, for identifying with the situations that the film presents. Absurdity of existence, injustice rampant in our social environments. Suffering silently seemingly without reason, why pursue in such folly for justice, reason and purpose amongst our fellow human beings, when all is so easily undone. It is cause to question ourselves with faith for continuing in this charade that is life.
With perhaps greater radiance, if not greater resonance, than in any of his other films, Bresson's adaptation of Diary of a Country Priest articulates the director's typically fatalistic take on the relationship between human life and reality: we can either face up to their irreconcilability, or we can survive. The presence or absence of God is finally immaterial.
A look at the second, revised edition of James Quandt’s crucial anthology, Robert Bresson.
The complete retrospective will carry on touring North America through May.
Introducing a new series of essays on the “tightly-packed excess” of Robert Bresson.
A look at the best posters for the films of Robert Bresson, to coincide with the Film Forum retrospective.
"The indie Texan filmmaker David Lowery receives a double bill at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and while Pioneer, a 16-minute
This picture proves that there is more to a film then words. The acting is priceless. His focus on details proves to be strong in this film. The emotional story telling seems to pour out of his model… read review
‘Diary’ is both a clear break from the conventions of mainstream French cinema and the work of a director in transition. Made in 1951, Bresson’s third film displays many of the characteristics that… read review
A beautiful film, layered and nuanced and delicate. Bresson’s country priest is hanging on by the quill of his pen, it’s as if making his mark on a page is the only way he can validate himself or leave… read review