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. –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
"Both Christian and sadistic," said Godard of Bresson's morality play in the trailer for which he recently claimed long-assumed responsibility, committing a typically arch redundancy but also getting right to the heart of the matter. Mouchette is as perfectly heartbreaking and cruel as any crucifixion, and Bresson, like God, can look like some kind of bastard for letting it happen. But Bresson, like God (may he rest in peace), also sets his tragedy in a bejeweled landscape of scarred grace, which has to count for something.
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.
Will this film make me laugh? Cry? Will I have fun for a couple of hours then forget all about it by the next day? If that’s the kind of questions that run through your mind when evaluating a film… read review