“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
Bresson’s style of accentuating minimalist details — closing up and slowing down on body parts or material items — repletes his films with a transcendental slowing down of one’s perception of time. This sensibility bestows his films with a “certain lightness” (Andrei Tarkovsky), a certain gracefulness, and a sense of humility. Bresson’s films, particularly the masterpieces — Diary of A Country Priest, Au Hasard Balthazar, A Man Escaped, Mouchette, Pickpocket, Four Nights of A Dreamer, and Le Diable Probablement (in my opinion) — share a spiritual conscience of surrendering oneself; the films at once surrender themselves as well as their creator, Robert Bresson, to the concept of art: a means of connecting, through grace, to something beyond form, and, therefore, beyond aesthetics — a means of connecting to the spirit. In this way, he may be regarded as both a materialist and a spiritualist — the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Bresson embodies the spirit in material, and, with grace, captures the spirit — what is beyond the simple form of the material — and illustrates it for the world to see. He is a true auteur and a true artist.
While Four Nights of A Dreamer is the most personally affective of his films, for me, I can’t put it above the other 5 for that reason alone. It is certainly worth mentioning, though. While the top 4 is definite, and, I think, easily Bresson’s greatest, they are rather interchangeable. You could take my top 4 and flip them in reverse and I wouldn’t really mind. Pickpocket is damn close to that level, too. L’argent has the potential to go up, as it is the only film I did not view during this two month period; I saw it a half a year ago, reviewed it, and didn’t feel the need to see it again just yet. It will be seen next, hopefully in the next few days if I can get a decent copy of it.
Reviews of all 13 films may be found here: http://aestheticsofthemind.wordpress.com/Read less