I am reading his book (which i agree in plenty of things), but it looks quite close-minded to other styles than it’s own, i can’t see him enjoying any Hollywood movie, or any Bergman or any nouvelle vague movie.
Also, do you think in the future Bresson style of pure cinema will start to really influence filmmakers? maybe Haneke, Malle and some others have been influenced by him but more in the “background” than the own pure cinema style.
I am sorry if this has been discussed before, i didn’t find any thread.
The Dardenne Brothers seem to show a Bresson influenced. There is a similarity in the simple yet elegant way they direct each scene. I am not sure I would call it ‘pure cinema’ though since that is a pretty objective term. Some people may think that Tarkovsky is pure cinema but others may say the same about the Transformers movies.
If you mean pure cinema to be slow paced movies with precise editing with the use of the same narrative techniques as well as the same camera lens in each scene etc then look no further than Ozu, whose films after 1950 looked and felt pretty much the same – despite their distinct plots.
The question of whether or not Bresson was influenced by Ozu is not one I can answer. But I know he was influenced from a literary perspective by Dostoyevsky. How he developed his style into a cinematic one from that influence is not one I can answer. But I am sure someone knows.
When Paul Schrader interviewed Bresson in the late 70s, he claimed to have never seen an Ozu movie. Provided he was telling to truth, it seems unlikely that he was influenced by Ozu.
By the way, Bresson claimed at one point to love James Bond movies!
He said Godard made the best films that can be seen. Except when he used actors of course. He liked them because they used disorder and went against the norm. He liked the Bond films for their cinematographic writing. The cinematic details and editing, not showing everything. “It filled me with wonder” he said of For Your Eyes Only! He admired Chaplin.
He didn’t like seeing anything theatrical or photographical since he was always trying so hard to get the cinema(tograph) as independent as possible from the other arts and blahblahblah…
Yeah, I seem to remember hearing that Bresson REALLY like Goldfinger or something.
I though he had to go see a James Bond film with his young niece and said that ironically, but who knows, too mysterious guy.
Everyone could have a different meaning to ‘pure cinema’, i guess it is something like a documentary without being a documentary, try to film life. People say Bresson films have a lot metaphors, but life itself has metaphors even in our every-day life, so Bresson metaphors may be that and not fake or premeditated.
Also, if i have a leading role for a character who is a dustman who is sick of life, instead of hire a mediocre actor who will probably overact i will pick a real dustman who is sick of life. That’s an inspiration for young filmmakers with low budgets.
Bresson’s favorite films:
1. The Gold Rush
2. City Lights
3. Battleship Potemkin
4. Brief Encounter
5. Bicycle Thieves
6. Man of Aran
7. Louisiana Story
While we’re on the subject, has anyone seen Public Affairs? It’s a 25 min short comedy that Bresson did in 1934.
I asked him. He said yes.
On Matt Parks’s list Bresson added:Désolé de ne pas pouvoir vous donner une liste plus étendue, mais je ne vais que très rarement au cinéma.
Public Affairs is nothing to write home about, except for being unusual in his career.
His favourite films listed above are very much a standard selection of the 50s- the top 3 dominated a few international polls that decade, along with Bicycle Thieves (Keaton’s the General was also a high flyer.) The others in the list were also popular with critics at that time.
Wasn’t he criticized for once listing his top ten as this:
1. City Lights
2. City Lights
It would be really nice to see the assertions put forth on this thread linked to the sources the information came from.
I don’t have a linkable source handy right now, but the Paul Schrader-Bresson interview I referred to can be found in Robert Bresson (Revised), ed. James Quandt.
My sources: SPOILERS in these interviews
Samuels: That reminds me of Godard. He makes bad films, but he defends them so interestingly.
Bresson: His films are interesting. He upsets the official cinema, which cares only for profits. He taught films how to use disorder.
S: Don’t you think his purpose is more important than the individual results – which aren’t very good?
B: When he uses professional actors, I don’t like his films, but when he doesn’t, he makes the best that can be seen.
The Paul Schrader interview: http://www.paulschrader.org/articles/1977-Bresson.html
Schrader: Have you seen any of Ozu’s films?
Bresson: No, I don’t go anymore to see movies. I may have seen one a long time ago.
He talked about Goldfinger in Robert Bresson – Ni vu, ni connu by François Weyergans, for Cinéastes de Notre Temps. Specifically the part where Bond sees an attacker reflected in the eye of a woman. I saw this without subtitles so I missed details.
Bruno Dumont has a clear influence by Bresson even in France some people have called him the new bresson which in my opnion is a bit extreme.
The Dardenne brothers have made public in several occasions their profound admiration for Bresson.
Thanks for the Samuels interview, very interesting.
I was about to mention Dumont as well. Evidently D. gets pretty angry when people bring this up, but it’s definitely there, if not perhaps in every film (I’d say Life of Jesus and Hadewijch are probably the most Bresson-esque; Flanders and Twentynine Palms couldn’t be more different (the latter seems to me like a merger between Zabriskie Point and Psycho, but that’s getting us a bit far afield)).
Thanks for the other info though, other posters, I’m glad to hear that he liked For Your Eyes Only, which is one of the better Bond films.
When Dumont made Twentynine Palms everyone said he let them down as ’Bresson’s heir’. He says that he considers himself closer to Rossellini, and he’s not religious even though he’s clearly interested in religion/spirituality.
Bresson was so full of shit. He claimed he didn’t like any films except “some scenes of Chaplin when he’s not acting.” His praise of Godard was more out of politeness that came from an interview with Godard where Godard couldn’t stop praising Bresson, and Bresson just put in a small praise that added up to “when you’re not making films with real actors they are the least bad films that can be seen.”
He once claimed he hadn’t finished watching a film in 10 years or something ridiculous. But then he went and watched a bunch of James Bond films.
Good thing he was a genius and made amazing films.
It’s an interesting contradiction the fact that both Rossellini and Bresson were not “beleivers” but were interested in themes related to spirituality and the sacred.
Bresson claimed to be a believer as late as 1976/7 though everyone assumes the indifference to modern society and the church means that he wasn’t. That Charles fails to find any reason to live is society and the church’s fault. In the screenplay Bresson wrote that Charles hates materialistic priests whom he calls “ministers of nothingness”. He said in the Schrader interview that he couldn’t go to the new mass, not when people are there, so he has Charles go at night but the police show up (because of this film’s reputation nobody talks of predesination and chance. Think of all the times he almost succeeds at something [the vulgarised Mozart]). He says that “I am sure there are young people who commit suicide because they can’t find this anymore.” The Devil Probably and L’Argent are about how society keeps the individual from any meaningful life, putting walls up between them and the immaterial, God or whatever. Dieu visible, a commoditised God. Like Bresson’s detractors, they need to see everything.
I think that Journal d’un curé de campagne (51) is in fact the film that actually achieves the whole subject of predestination or chance. It’s based on Augustin d’Hippone’s philosophy and theory of grace. Which is Bresson’s basis of film making, That’s why he hot 60 takes trying to find that moment of grace.
Still interesting the fact that he acknowledges his beliefs publicly 25 years after making heavily Jansenists films.
Bresson was a rather silent, sort of mysterious person, that probably explains it..
I’m the only one who feel that Schopenhauer is very connected with Bresson style and especially, context? i’m not saying Bresson was influenced by him, of course not. But there are plenty of things they share, lack of understanding of what humans do with animals, spirituality, pessimism, nihilism, lack of sense of most of the human relations, inevitable own pain for all the pain in the universe…
Bresson once claimed he never went to the movie. So som Cahiers critics hired a detective. Not only did Bresson go to the movies, he went CONSTANTLY. H even went to see cheaply made kung-fu action films.
He said in the ‘50s that he went less than he used to, expressed his distaste for the non-reality of Blake Edwards’ The Great Race in the ’66 Godard/Delahaye interview, and was a big fan of Bond films.
Wasn’t Schopenhauer an anti-natalist? Better to have never been born. Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
Was Bresson a “better-off-dead” man?
I don’t think Schopenhauer was a better-off-dead man or 100% anti-natalist, but it’s normal to think about those things when you believe there’s something naturally evil in the universe.
Anyhow, thanks for your opinion, i was just wondering.
I had no clue about Bresson’s “Top 7” as it were…also the Cahiers private detective story is very funny if it’s true.
I think people like Bresson like to build their own self myths to be honest, and I can see why he’d reject every other director. It’s hard to harbor your own original vision for a film and when you see other people doing good work- it tends to influence your own work and make you reject your own ideas. Sometimes it’s better to shut yourself off from other influences completely.
Bresson’s style shuts out every other filmmaker. Nobody obeys his ‘rules’. It happened to me after discovering him, I had a hard time accepting other films. “It’s all performance! Unnecessary photography!” Was interested in Cassavetes and Bergman, then in about a 10 day period they were “fucking wrong!” to me, and I still can’t accept most directors’ machines as even comparable to Bresson’s. Though I’m interested in Zulawski now, Bresson’s polar opposite.