I like that. Devastating. I sat in the dark for a few minutes afterward. Flawed but maybe my favorite.
Calls to mind the work of Haneke when he first started making films. An essay-like narrative regarding the pointlessness of everything, intentionally stripped down to its barest form. In other cases, I've found myself disliking Bresson (and early Haneke) for the same reason people like him - aesthetic austerity. But this one stands out as being slightly less restrained than usual and I guess that's why I enjoy it.
That's Marie Rivière in the church! The camera pans as she walks down an aisle and sits down.
My relationship with Bresson's films have been wildly varied and difficult at times, but the moment where the title of the film is explained, this grows into a fascinating take on a moment where a person gives up on the meaningless environment around him and burns every bridge metaphorically and literally to improve himself, even if the ending is shocking for everyone viewing it, myself included.
At a time of life when most director's would be resting on their laurels with their best work behind them, Bresson proved that he was still right at the top of his game with this powerful and bleak work. The film is a passionate howl of rage against the destruction of all he holds sacred shown through the eyes of a despairing youth who comes to a shocking decision after failing to find a direction in his empty life..
Who hasn't wanted to sneak into a medieval church some night with a sleeping bag and portable record player, then while lying on the parquet floor to stare up at the dark stained glass, the carved marble columns and the ribbed ceiling while listening to Monteverdi motets on vinyl bouncing off the stone vaults? A movie on anarchy and lost faith in all but romantic endings. Get out "Les Pensees," it's Bresson.
The Devil Probably (1977) is a powerful meditation on the arbitrariness of life. Originally restricted in France to those under 18, the film developed controversy due to it’s subjectification of suicide. Many believed that it may incite suicide in certain individuals, particularly within the youth. Read More: http://aestheticsofthemind.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-devil-probably-le-diable-probablement/
I may need to rewatch it because I couldn't quite put my finger in the minor conflicts between the characters here, but thanks to the assured hand in the direction the message is convincing and makes the film ultimately worth watching.
Intellectually engaging? Occasionally. Ponderously exacting? Frequently. Aesthetically ascetic? Almost entirely.
Robert Bresson’s “Au Hazard Balthazar” and “Devil Probably” are films where plot and meaning are highly stylized by the director’s unique manner of uniting/fusing his intellectual and aesthetic maneuvers into one alive cinematic organism. The donkey “Balthazar” in “Au Hazard” symbolizes not only the human body but the human soul, while the bodies of the young people in “Devil” symbolize the very intelligence of nature as a pantheistically spiritual creation. In the two films (separated by the period of eleven years), Bresson compares the ignorantly indifferent and the passively cruel position of a modern society (obsessed with wealth and glamour and occupied with philistinism of “success” and competition) towards children and youth. With grace of a seeker for truth and with a sarcasm of moral frustration, Bresson depicts how today’s system of values becomes more and more anti-spiritual, and for this reason more and more anti-human. Moral radicalism of both films addresses the heart of the viewers with an insistency and intensity of a prophet’s demand, and it could be unbearable to receive, if not visual harmony and the rhythmic beauty of Bresson’s narrations. These films – two chapters in the history of Western sensibility, is a scandalous verdict on the behavioral anti-Christianity of the so called Christian societies. Please, visit: www.actingoutpolitics.com to read an essay about Bresson’s two films: “Balthazar, Marie, Charles, Alberte, Edvige, Valentine (To be Victimized Against our Will as an ‘Existential’ Law” [posted on Sept. 27, 2010]), with analysis of shots from the films, and also articles dedicated to the films by Godard, Bergman, Bunuel, Kurosawa, Resnais, Pasolini, Fassbinder, Antonioni, Bertolucci, Alain Tanner and Liliana Cavani. By Victor Enyutin
Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. Nonetheless the wholly enlightened earth is radiant with triumphant calamity. ~ Dialectic of Enlightenment , Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer
A very depressing film from Bresson which deals with a generation that feels desperate in face of modern destructive world, and turns to mindless sex, drugs and emptiness. You can call this film an attack of Bresson on the new generation of hypocrisy, where people are lost and powerless and end up committing suicide. What makes this film worthy of watching? Bresson's directing, probably.