Even if the first-person narration cannot be seen as a thoroughly absorbing device, and even if Bresson's visual poetry has not fully articulated the spiritualization of matter, this early exploration to the evil's habitat in the French countryside has an interiority that remains unmatched. The accumulation of moral cracks on the young priest's faith is one that pushes the ascetic calling to theodicy and sacrifice.
The voice-over method of the movie which rearranges border between the image was presented and the image which could have been deliberately imagined and text as narrative framework of dearest priest are correlated within the particular dimensions rather than following each other, the past theme of diary cannot be tangible in the moment of the present. I assume his asceticism also reflect on contemplative mystic act.
To say little of the film, I stumbled in right as the film was beginning, sneaking off a bit early from my volunteer shift at the museum. It struck me as somewhat punkish, exhausting edits giving a sense of rebellion. I drifted off for a solid 20 and awoke very sad, a post-shrooms haze that shifted my thoughts between the slow death of the film and personal dramas. I considered leaving. Think I will love this soon.
2.2 stars. It is perhaps unreasonable for me to give such a low score to a film so immaculately acted & staged. The fault here is not Bresson's, but that of Georges Bernanos. I passionately disagree with the film's life-denying theology. I fear that maybe Bresson is taking a critical stance that I'm missing (I hope so!) but it seems like a faithful adaptation of the novel's religious intent. (I am a Unitarian, obvs)
A powerful existential piece. Incredibly moving film that tosses between commitment to faith and apathy. Brought by physical pain and the death of his contemporaries torments a priest to question his belief. Alone, he feels he cannot turn to anyone besides God for Love. Yet, he is tortured by His silence.
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.
I sincerely believe that love is what all religions are based on but over the centuries people have turned that pure love into a product or a thing, and destroyed the meaning of that love, where it comes from and its importance. The film is a lesson all of itself, never forces Christianity onto its audience but merely examines its pros and cons while striving to alleviate the fear of death.