A new priest arrives in a French country village to attend to his first parish, but after encountering immediate rejection, he relays his crisis of faith into his diary. Robert Bresson’s fourth film strips away all inessential aesthetic elements, exacting a purity of image and sound.
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The discontinuity of an individual: despair of the image, despair of sound, despair of the text. The image outlives its voice, and the duration of the text is an endless rupture...there is nowhere to begin the trace of difference, the sign of the protagonist was written before language... and its final, blind smile will always dream that it was imperceptible.
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 performance of austerity on the subject of austerity. A filmmaker practices austerity to create art; a priest (Claude Laydu) practices austerity to instill faith: both seek to fluorish growth amidst the people. The ascetic habits and characteristics of the Priest are at once reflected in... Read More: http://aestheticsofthemind.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/diary-of-a-country-priest-journal-dun-cure-de-campagne/
I understand why some find the film hard to watch, its far from dull but it requires a strong investment from the viewer. The film unfolds as testaments of seemingly selfless faith begin to border on intentional martyrdom. What's redeeming is the payoff in end isn't from god as old man in the sky but the revelation that grace can be found anywhere and that its not only accessible suffering. Masterpiece.
We find in the frail, forbearing main character and that fortunate coupling with the hateful, conniving townies a daunting trial of faith, and through the accurate, very insightful dialogue we ultimately find the idealized answer to what it means to be catholic. On the other hand, there is also a chance you may feel completely indifferent to it if you're not that interested in religious culture.
An early iteration of Bresson's awkward-yet-luminous underdog martyrs, trodden on by a hypocritical & mercenary society - poor in spirit & substance. Finding their way, despite cruelty, despite the camera's imposed austerity, despite Bresson's relentless precision - to the Sublime, and transcendence. Leaving society to its shame... Bergman will riff on this one nicely (if less earnestly) later, in Winter Light.