Robert Bresson


Robert Bresson

Infobox actor
name = Robert Bresson


birthdate = Birth date|1901|9|25
location = Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France
deathdate = death date and age |1999|12|18|1901|9|25
deathplace = Paris, France
yearsactive = 1933 - 1983
spouse = Leidia van der Zee (m.1926)
Marie-Madeleine van der Mersch
awards = Best Director Award (Cannes Film Festival)
1956 "A Man Escaped"
1983 "L'Argent"

Robert Bresson (pronounced|ʁɔbɛʁ bʁɛˈsɔ̃ in French) (September 25, 1901 – December 18, 1999) was a French film director known for his spiritual, ascetic style.

Early life

Robert Bresson was born at Bromont-Lamothe. Little is known of his early life and the year of his birth, 1901 or 1907 varies depending on the source. He was educated at Lycée Lakanal à Sceaux, Paris, and turned to painting after graduating. [ [http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/bresson.htm Robert Bresson (1907-1999)] ]

Born in central France and educated in Paris, Bresson's early ambition was to become a painter. Three formative influences in his early life seem to have a mark on his films - his catholicism, work as a painter and his experiences as a prisoner of war.

Initially a painter and photographer, Bresson made his first short film, "Les affaires publiques" (Public Affairs) in 1934. During World War II, he spent over a year in a prisoner-of-war camp--an experience which informs "Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut" ("A Man Escaped").

In a career that spanned fifty years, Bresson made only 13 feature-length films. This reflects his meticulous approach to the filmmaking process and his non-commercial preoccupations. Difficulty finding funding for his projects was also a factor.

tyle and themes

Bresson's early artistic focus was to separate the language of cinema from the theatre, which often heavily involves the actor's performance to drive the work. With his 'actor-model' technique, Bresson's actors were required to repeat multiple takes of each scene until all semblances of 'performance' were stripped away, leaving a stark effect that registers as both subtle and raw, and one that can only be found in the cinema.

Some feel that Bresson's Catholic upbringing and Jansenist belief-system lie behind the thematic structure of most of his films. Recurring themes under this interpretation include salvation, redemption, defining and revealing the human soul, and metaphysical transcendence of a limiting and materialistic world. An example is his 1956 feature "A Man Escaped", where a seemingly simple plot of a prisoner of war's escape can be read as a metaphor for the mysterious process of salvation.

Bresson's films can also be understood as critiques of French society and the wider world, with each revealing the director's sympathetic if unsentimental view on its victims. That the main characters of Bresson's most contemporary films, "L'Argent" and "The Devil, Probably" (1977), reach similarly unsettling conclusions about life indicates to some the director's feelings towards the culpability of modern society in the dissolution of individuals. Indeed, of an earlier protagonist he said, "Mouchette offers evidence of misery and cruelty. She is found everywhere: wars, concentration camps, tortures, assassinations."citequote

In 1975, Bresson published "Notes sur le Cinématographe" (most commonly translated as "notes on cinematography"), in which he argues for a unique sense of the term, "cinematography". For Bresson, cinematography is the higher function of cinema. Whereas a movie is in essence "only" filmed theatre, cinematography is an attempt to create a new language of moving images and sounds.

Legacy

Bresson is often referred to as a 'patron saint' of cinema, not only for the strong Catholic themes found throughout his oeuvre, but also for his notable contributions to the art of film. His original directorial language can be detected through his use of sound, associating selected sounds with images or characters; paring dramatic form to its essentials by the spare use of music; and through his infamous 'actor-model' methods of directing his almost exclusively non-professional actors.

He has influenced a number of other filmmakers, including Andrei Tarkovsky, Michael Haneke, Jim Jarmusch and Paul Schrader, whose book "Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer" (ISBN 0-306-80335-6) includes a detailed critical analysis.

Quotes

"Robert Bresson is French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is the German music" — Jean-Luc Godard, French film director ("Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)", edited by James Quandt).

"My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water." - Robert Bresson citequote

Awards and nominations

Robert Bresson was given the Career Golden Lion in 1989 by the Venice Film Festival

*"Journal d'un curé de campagne" (1951) - "Diary of a Country Priest"
**Venice Film Festival International Award Winner
**Venice Film Festival Italian Film Critics Award Winner
**Venice Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
*"Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut" (1956) - "A Man Escaped"
**Cannes Film Festival Prix de la mise en scène Winner
*"Pickpocket" (1959) - "Pickpocket"
**Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Nominee
*"Procès de Jeanne d'Arc" (1962) - "The Trial of Joan of Arc"
**Cannes Film Festival Special Prix du Jury Winner
**Cannes Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
*"Au hasard Balthazar" (1966) - "Balthazar"
**Venice Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
**Venice Film Festival Jury Hommage
*"Mouchette" (1967)
**Cannes Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
**Venice Film Festival Pasinetti Award Winner
*"Quatre nuits d'un rêveur" (1971) - "Four Nights of a Dreamer"
**Berlin Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
*"Lancelot du Lac" (1974)- "Lancelot of the Lake"
**Cannes Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize Winner ("Bresson refused this award")
*"Le diable probablement" (1977) - "The Devil Probably"
**Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear Winner
**Berlin Film Festival Interfilm Award Winner
**Berlin Film Festival OCIC Award Winner
*"L'argent" (1983) - "Money"
**Cannes Film Festival Prix de la mise en scène Winner

Filmography

Feature films

*"Les Anges du péché" (1943)
**"Angels of the Streets"
*"Les dames du Bois de Boulogne" (1945)
**"The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne"
*"Journal d'un curé de campagne" (1951)
**"Diary of a Country Priest"
*"Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut" (1956)
**"A Man Escaped"
*"Pickpocket" (1959)
*"Procès de Jeanne d'Arc" (1962)
**"The Trial of Joan of Arc"
* "Au hasard Balthazar" (1966)
**"Balthazar"
*"Mouchette" (1967)
*"Une femme douce" (1969)
**"A Gentle Woman"
*"Quatre nuits d'un rêveur" (1971)
**"Four Nights of a Dreamer"
*"Lancelot du Lac" (1974)
**"Lancelot of the Lake"
*"Le diable probablement" (1977)
**"The Devil Probably"
*"L'argent" (1983)
**"Money"

hort films

*"Les affaires publiques" (1934)
**"Public Affairs"

Bibliography

By Robert Bresson

*"Notes sur le Cinématographe" — translated as "notes on cinematography" and "notes on the cinematographer" in different English editions.

About Robert Bresson

*"La politique des auteurs", edited by Andre Bazin.
*"Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)", edited by James Quandt
*"Transcendental Style in Film: Bresson, Ozu, Dreyer" by Paul Schrader
*"Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film", by Joseph Cunneen
*"Robert Bresson", by Philippe Arnauld, Cahiers du cinema, 1986
*"The Films of Robert Bresson", Ian Cameron (ed.), New York: Praeger Publishers, 1969.
*"Robert Bresson", by Keith Reader, Manchester University Press, 2000.
*"Robert Bresson", a poem by Patti Smith from her 1978 book "Babel"
*"Spiritual style in the films of Robert Bresson", a chapter in Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation and other essays, New York: Picador, 1966.

References

External links

* [http://www.robert-bresson.com/ Robert-Bresson.com: A comprehensive, fairly up-to-date internet resource dedicated to Bresson's films]
* [http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/Bibliography/Bresson.html Arguably the world's most comprehensive Bresson Bibliography (2008)]
*
* [http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/Words/CTSamuels.html In-depth interview with Bresson from 1970]
* [http://www.kinema.uwaterloo.ca/gorl001.htm Essay on the legacy of Bresson]
*
* [http://www.theyshootpictures.com/bressonrobert.htm They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060618182711/http://www.moviemaker.com/issues/38/38_bresson.htm Article about the cinema of Robert Bresson]
* [http://zakka.dk/euroscreenwriters/film_archive/bresson_robert.htm Rare interview footage with Bresson from French TV in 1960]
* [http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/hourigan_interview.html Inside Bresson's "L'Argent": Interview with Crew-member Jonathan Hourigan] , by Colin Burnett

Persondata
NAME= Bresson, Robert
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Film director
DATE OF BIRTH= 1901-9-25
PLACE OF BIRTH= Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France
DATE OF DEATH= death date and age |1999|12|18|1901|9|25
PLACE OF DEATH= Paris, France


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