All is Grace: The Films of Robert Bresson
NR Directed by Robert Bresson.
REVIEWED Thu., Aug. 31, 2000
I remember watching introductions to the films of French filmmaker Robert Bresson in which the speaker would make statements like, "What you are about to watch is a perfect film," or "You are in the hands of a master; if you don't like, or get the film, the problem is with you, not the work." Let me make my own crazy passionate statement about the films of Robert Bresson. "If you believe in cinema, or the possibility of cinema, you'd be crazy to let this once-in-a-lifetime retrospective of Bresson's work pass you by." If there were ever a film artist whose work should only be seen, to be properly absorbed, in a theatre, it's Bresson. Until his death this past fall at 98, Bresson was widely considered the greatest living filmmaker, a singular artist who took the cinematic apparatus and created his own language. I could write a dissertation on Bresson, but in this limited space I'll only offer a few quick thoughts to encourage the uninitiated to toss off the Hollywood training, cleanse the system, and find one's way into this precise, exalted poetry. Admittedly, it takes a little getting used to (what truly great art doesn't?), but the rewards are potentially unlike anything you will have experienced watching a movie. Bresson is the opposite of a navel-gazing minimalist his films are rich with great stories that grow from their characters, that clip along quickly in an elliptical manner. One must open one's eyes, ears, and heart, and pay close attention. An offhand line can change your entire understanding, a key event might very well happen off screen. It's scene after scene, rendered in beautiful, almost documentary fragments, accumulating, unexplained and "unmotivated," building toward a maximal emotional impact, through a minimum of means. The human models that populate the film (called actors elsewhere) are not limited by seeming to be anything more than what they are: a human soul, representing us all. This is to be a full participatory experience on the audience's part and the epiphanies are for them more than the characters. In 15 years, the Austin Film Society has shown Bresson films here and there, but never like this: 10 films, new 35mm prints, and for free no less. Watch every one, it might not seem easy, nor is it meant to be, but you can carry this with you the rest of your life.
Schedule - All films start at 7:30pm in the Dobie Theatre
Tuesday, Sept 5: Pickpocket (1959)
Monday, Sept 11: Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945)
Tuesday, Sept. 12: The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962)
Monday, Sept. 18: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
Tuesday, Sept. 19: Mouchette (1966)
Monday, Sept. 25: Lancelot of the Lake (1974)
Tuesday, Sept. 26: L'Argent (1983)
Monday, Oct. 2: The Devil Probably (1977)
Tuesday, Oct. 3: Diary of a Country Priest (1950)
Tuesday, Oct. 10: A Man Escaped (1956)