Dersu Uzala (and a voting decision) coming soon.
Just have to, ya know, watch Dersu Uzala first…
Akira Kurosawa (Dersu Uzala) 1 Robert Bresson (L’Argent) 0
I don’t agree to consider Dersu as simplistic. Keep in mind that it was filmed after a critical and commercial failure, the experimental Dodes’ka-den, and even a suicide attempt. Obviously, the Emperor filmed his next project with a more traditional narrative, but a classical narrative does not mean a minor film! Renoir rightly explained it about his American movies (especially the editing impositions), and the culmination was The River, another sublime simplistic film.
I agree Angel. The film took four years to shoot; most of which took place in 40 below weather in Siberia. Kurosawa referred to it as a major military operation.
“On December 22, 1971, Kurosawa attempted suicide by razor, slashing his throat and wrists.
Upon his recovery from the near-fatal event, Kurosawa’s fighting spirit seems to have been reawakened. Turning his back on his home studio of Toho (which was reluctant to fund a new production), Kurosawa looked westward and accepted an offer from the Soviet studio Mosfilm, which offered him the freedom to develop his own script. The film he made while rising from the ashes of his career, Dersu Uzala, was not the last lament of a dying man, but the bold announcement that he was not giving up the fight.
Kurosawa had read Vladimir Arseniev’s memoir Dersu Uzala in the 1940s, and at this crucial juncture of his career, saw in it the opportunity to make something expansive and unconventional. Working with Russian writer Yuri Nagibin (Igor Talankin’s epic Tchaikovsky, 1969), Kurosawa created a script in which the backdrop would be the most prominent feature: “the astonishingly beautiful, gigantic and awesome Great Nature of the Ussuri region of Russia.” So said a note attached to the screenplay itself, according to the Japanese film magazine Kinema Jumpo.
Speaking of the film in greater detail, Kurosawa said, “The relationship between human beings and nature is getting worse and worse…I wanted to have people all over the world know about this Soviet Asian character who lived in harmony with nature… I think people should be more humble toward nature because we are a part of it and we must become harmonized with it. If nature is destroyed, human beings will be destroyed too. So we can learn a lot from Dersu,” (quoted in Donald Richie’s The Films of Akira Kurosawa). Or, as the title character himself says in the film, “Man is very small before the face of nature.”
Read the rest of the article here
“Though I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you chose L’Argent.”
I created a thread on “L’Argent” which can be found here. As far as I’m concerned Jerry is right about the dichotomies as displayed in “L’Argent”, in my analysis I also further expanded on the spatial dichotomies. Maybe we should just keep personal attacks out of this and concentrate on the films instead. And I agree that the term “simplistic” is doing neither “L’Argent” nor “Dersu Uzala” justice.
Akira Kurosawa (Dersu Uzala) 1 Robert Bresson (L’Argent) 0
As far as I’m concerned Jerry is right about the dichotomies as displayed in “L’Argent”, in my analysis I also further expanded on the spatial dichotomies.
yes, you did expand on the spatial dichotomies in your analysis, and I appreciate that because your analysis actually says something meaningful. But the supposed dichotomies that Jerry is referring to is the ““It’s so concrete and so abstract” variety. Are you seriously telling me that kind of commentary actually carries any kind of meaning? Shit, if a college freshman wrote something like that as analysis, they’d be lucky to get a C.
Bresson is completely unique in his casting of models. When directors have generally cast non-actors in films, it’s for purposes of verisimilitude, and they are rarely beautiful. Bresson’s are always beautiful.
@ Jerry Johnson,
Wrong again. Bresson can call them mannequins instead of models for all I care. The undeniable facts are that just every person who played a major role in Bressons’ films—both early and late—either had acted before or went on to have significant careers in acting. It’s not at all like the examples of some neorealist films in which truly ordinary folks who had nothing to do with cinema or TV or theater were throw in front of the camera for a film never to be captured on celluloid again.
@ anyone and everyone who cares,
No, I’m not in the business of making personal attacks. It’s just that JJ has gone on record several times reminding people of what an important person he is in the world of cinema, and I have made a note of that and expect such an important person to make important relevant comments. That seems fair to me.
Akira Kurosawa (Dersu Uzala) 0 – Robert Bresson (L’Argent) 1
Nice work on L’argent in the analyses topic, Apur. I hope I have some time to comment on them in the next few days.
The undeniable facts are that just every person who played a major role in Bressons’ films—both early and late—either had acted before or went on to have significant careers in acting
This is completely untrue.
Claude Laydu: first film
Nicole Ladmiral: only film
Jean Riveyre: first film
François Leterrier: only film
Charles Le Clainche: only film
Martin La Salle: first film
Marika Green: first film
Jean Pélégri: first film
Pierre Leymarie: only film
Florence Delay: only film
Jean-Claude Fourneau: only film
Anne Wiazemsky: first film
Walter Green: only film
François Lafarge: only film
I stopped at Balthazar. The only major player that had a film under their belt when Bresson cast them was the older priest in Diary. Facts aren’t facts when Blue K invents them.
It’s just that JJ has gone on record several times reminding people of what an important person he is in the world of cinema
I’ve never said that and I have no idea why you have to sit down to pee when I’m around.
“This is completely untrue.”
Yeah Blue, perhaps you were drunk but Jerry’s stats about bios and background information are 99% right when he has studied on them, much like Ehrenstein. I doubt I’ll find any major stars or even recurring actors / actresses from Bresson’s films in previous Balthazar years (let’s mark this checkpoint so far). I didn’t even know that fact about that character from Country Priest and the only highly acclaimed actress I personally know (or I can recall from other roles) is miss Wiazemsky.
(well, Marika Green has played in Emmanuelle but…heh)
Dominique Sanda is of course “the one that got away.” The fact that she went on to a major career as a cinematic enchantress greatly annoyed Bresson.
Sanda said that he would occasionally call her up and simply breathe over the phone without saying anything — like a spurned lover.
“I don’t find anything erotic in Mouchette nor in Lancelot.”
Well maybe not Mouchette but Lancelot stars the jaw-droppingly beautiful Humbert Balsam as Gawain. It was the very first thing Balsam ever did. He went on of course to have a considerable career as a film producer — a career whose complexity and risk apparently led to his suicide. The recent film “The Father of My Children” is about Balsam’s suicide and its aftermath.
Dersu Uzala 0 – L’Argent 1
I wasn’t really impressed by any of these two films,neither of which has really lived up to my expectations.Especially I find Dersu Uzala too simplistic and immature,even more considering that it’s not an early Kurosawa.In my opinion,all the characters were too one-sided and shallow and the script was all too predictable.Moreover,I don’t think it was that beatiful visually,especially in comparison with other Kurosawa films.
On the contrary,L’Argent,although that it’s maybe my least favorite Bresson so far,it still has some well-developed charactes and an emotional depth.
“…or went on to have significant careers in acting”
something Bresson disapproved of highly.
Dersu Uzala (1) – L’argent (0)
@Blue K: A college essay would certainly require some more elaboration, but the dichotomy of concrete and abstract elements in the film is actually essential (money itself being the most striking one), though it’s not the only dichotomy he has mentioned. He’s right that “L’Argent” features (maybe aside “Au hasard Balthazar”) the greatest variety of characters in a Bresson film and encompasses the concerns of different generations. I also agree on the notion that the film displays atheism and Christianity all along in opposition to each other (as for instance the unconscionable thief who makes a Samaritarian gift, or the nihilist murderer and the woman who states she would forgive everyone if she were God confronting each other), and in regards to the gay-straight dichotomy, even though people tend to ignore it, the homoerotic tension between the two boys who’re sharing a mutual secret is definitely there. And in many of Bresson’s films “truly ordinary folks who had nothing to do with cinema or TV or theater were throw in front of the camera”, the most prominent example being François Leterrier (A Man Escaped) who was a local philosophy student and had never acted before. Bresson mentioned frequently in interviews that he didn’t want actors for his films. I have no idea why you should bring false information to this debate, unless of course you were really drunk as Dimitris stated.
François Leterrier wnet on to become a film director. Among his credits: “Goodbye Emmmanuelle.”
Wow, two Bresson “children” went on to work in…Emmanuelle films?
L’Argent 1 Dersu Uzala 0
Have always been a huge admirer of Bresson and Kurosawa. I feel that Dersu Uzala, while an interesting addition to his filmography, is one of his lesser works.
25-19 Bresson, if I count correctly?
I fully agree with Apursansar when he posted above: Maybe we should just keep personal attacks out of this and concentrate on the films instead.
I came upon this ‘dispute’ late last night. It made me think that Mubi stands for Much Unending Bickering and Insults. I think these type of totally inane and pointless personal attacks completely side-track us from film discussion and comparison. This is a good way to derail these voting threads without any justification. If you want more participation from all members, I think the personal attacks can be done somewhere else – not on the voting threads, please.
However, knowing the combative nature of the participants, I am sure this plea will fall on completely deaf ears. Carry on, but it’s damn distracting and I think detrimental to the spirit of this event. I agree with Greg X’s comments, as well. I, for one, won’t be participating here if this is what these threads turn into – personal squabbles and vendettas. I came on this site to discuss films – not cyber personalities.
Maybe I am in in a minority here and others enjoy these petty squablles more than the voting commentary – I often wonder…
Yes, yes, let’s be calm and respectful but I really don’t know why the constant bickering makes so many people upset to the point of indignation. Like so many things, film spectatorship is a combat sport.
As for this vote. I am not sure. I really could go either way.
Dersu Uzala (0) – L’argent (1)
And let’s not forget that Au hasard Balthazar features a very erotic and handsome donkey. The way Bresson lovingly shoots that animal is a thing of beauty. And I’m pretty sure the donkey didn’t have any acting experience before Bresson plucked that non-actor from obscurity and, besides that donkey show scene in the Black Emanuelle film, he definitely never acted again.
“It’s also Bresson going Russian in a way, but he’s done that before.”
That suits him more because he incorporates it in French society….he’s not making any travelogues.
Agreed. There is certainly a distinction.
Universality is a trait of every great film. It’s a trait of every great work of art. If a work cannot transcend it’s setting then it’s about as useless as possible. Why would I watch a film that I know from the start I won’t be able to relate to in any fashion? That would be horrible.
It would be horrible if you were outside of it’s intended audience. Of course if you were the intended audience it can be the greatest thing in the world. Some of my favorite theatre pieces have been tailed specifically to a specific performance in a specific time and space and every other context. It makes it very immediate. Of course you can’t take it out of that context and expect it to have any meaning. Theatre has an easier time doing that because it’s always anchored to a specific time and place. Film can be replayed in any context but it will be essentially the same film wherever shown. However there are some cases where films are designed for specific events or functions. These can be a lot more effective than something “universal” because it doesn’t need to be.
Dersu Uzala — 0 vs L’argent — 1
Both great films and I usually would side with Kurosawa any other day of the week, but not this time. L’argent is way too incredible a film.
Dersu Uzala 0 – L’argent 1
David: i can understand Tilda Swinton liking Balthazar’s (or Balthazars’) performance so much and it’s also been said by Bresson detractors too to be the most convincing performance in his films!
This made me remember how when I was watching the end of L’Argent and the dog running around during the muders if Bresson was getting upset at the dog for “overacting”! Ha! Of course I’m guessing the dog wasn’t aware he was in a film.
I think the dog was the only professional actor in “L’Argent”, and he was taking his role way too seriously. ;)
The undeniable facts are that just about every person who played a major role in Bressons’ films—both early and late—either had acted before or went on to have significant careers in acting.
First of all, I said a “major role.” By this, I had “starring role” in mind—who are by the way the beautiful and erotic people JJ referred to.
And JJ, do you understand English? Do you understand the meaning of the conjunction or? Why are you telling me about people whose first film was with Bresson? I said, OR went on to have significant careers in acting. And you’re a writer? WOW.
And let’s comb through your list—again ignoring the ones about the first role, as those came from your inability to understand the English language.
Nicole Ladmiral: only film
WRONG. Acted in Two Pennies Worth of Violets
François Leterrier: only film
WRONG. Acted in Resnais’ Stavisky…
Florence deLay: only film
WRONG. another invention in JJ’s mind; Has acted in at least 3 other films besides Bresson’s Joan of Arc, also was the narrator on Marker’s Sans Soleil
François Lafarge: only film
WRONG: at least two other films and 3 TV shows to credit.
So talk to me about these, if you want to talk about FALSE information. By the way, all of this information is from IMDB. Where’s your info from? Jerry’s Movie Database of Bullshit?
@ Dimitris, Apursansar.
So you two might want to actually look at the FACTS before accusing me of being drunk or bringing false information. Or go give Jerry Johnson a reach-around.
the most prominent example being François Leterrier (A Man Escaped) who was a local philosophy student and had never acted before.
Well, duh. And that’s the minority example of a person who played a starring role in a Bresson film who never acted again. But he’s in the minority! Which is my original point, that IS backed by facts. I already did it for you, but comb through IMDB yourself if you don’t believe me.
This started because Jerry made the idiotic point that Bresson used “beautiful” people in his films, as he was the only one. Then he said, well, Bresson is totally unique because he used non-actors. NO. Like I proved, they may not have been known actors with acting credits, but the majority of the people who played starring roles went on to have acting careers. That’s completely different from the use of non-actors in neorealist films.
Thanks Apursansar for the great thread on L’Argent, and to David for the video.
Ha, i noted that Bresson had to get one up on Renoir and lost track of the question. Reminded me of his much fiercer and stronger criticism of Passion of Joan of Arc and Falconetti’s appallingly o.t.t performance.
Rigorous or not i have some temperamental reaction to Bresson. I often find him cold and- even taking into account potential spatial interest- claustrophobic. I agree with critique of materialistic society, i’m not into disillusionment as superior cynicism (which is how he often feels to me) or nihilism
Are his models really more credible than Falconetti, at different ends of Bresson’s spectrum?
I feel very down, almost nauseous, not just for my allergy but a sense of insufficient perception, and a shallow attitude in not taking to films so admired by Apursansar.