Bresson Study Day

In Joan of Arc Bresson used the minutes of the trial to create his film. The clip we watched was compared to The Duchess. The strength of the female character in Bresson’s film was noted along with minimalist use of emotion through  tonelessness of costume, set design and acting in order to absorb something without distraction.
Bresson didn’t use the same “model” twice – he thought once used, a personality is created and comes out in the next film.

Bresson was obssessive about control but worked with people who wanted to help him achieve his aims (except the actress he vowed never to work with again).

What is the role of narrator in a film?

Diaries/monologues/texts vs. protagonist’s subjective experience.

The Pickpocket – a “ballet of hands”.

Still life shots.

Peter Wollen essay – Caldwell seemed to reduce subjective truth to less than objective truth (if such a thing exists). I think objective truth is empty of everything except the facts.

Bresson wasn’t about fighting. He was about using subjective truth and removing anything non-essential.

Construction in Bresson; deconstruction in Godard.

Still lifes: Bresson influenced by Chardin (everyday objects) and by Cezanne (every brush stroke has a meaning).

Godard influenced by Bresson: Vivre sa vie: Nana “loses her body but preserves her soul” – links to Bresson’s paradoxes of protagonists preserving their integrity while in difficult or non-desired situations.

Bresson influenced by Godard: engaged with young (students) to try to understand what was going on.

The Pickpocket (novel by Dostoevsky) – ending: the protagonist ends up in prison and considers suicide but instead allows himself to fall in love with Jeanne. Comparison with American Gigolo. Gere ends up in prison – Paul Shraeder uses the same scene as the Bresson film.

“Architecture and what it does to humans.”

Meaning. Saying objects have no meaning or that anything has no meaning is anarchism. Interesting point. I thought it was truthful.

Watched L’Argent in the afternoon. I nearly fell asleep several times. I felt bored often. I didn’t care what any of the characters did or didn’t do. The murder scene was a relief even though that was carried out with a lack of emotion. It’s not truthful for everyone in a film to be so apparently lacking in emotion. My head felt as though it had been filled with cotton wool. I felt angry.


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