Bresson to the Rescue

Published June 30, 2009 by Molly


One of the great disappointments availed to film lovers is the circumstance of hearing a director talk about his work. Too often (not mentioning names here) a director’s conception of his own work jars inharmoniously with a viewer’s, especially if the film is dear to the latter. The result can be crushing.

What to do, what to do? Start by procuring a copy of Robert Bresson’s wee volume on filmmaking, Notes on the Cinematographer. Comprised of the great director’s memos to himself, the book is full of accessible, elegant epigrams that illuminate (rather than cloud) Bresson’s films–and, in their own way, whole swaths of cinema outside the director’s ouevre.

Godard said that “Bresson is the French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music.” Whether you agree or not, it is undeniable that the director of Pickpocket and Diary of a Country Priest has a way with the written word as well as the moving image. Makes a fitting antidote to all those Fresh Air interviews that you wish you could delete from your brain’s hard drive.

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2 comments so far

  1. r s e says:

    notes on the cinematographer is one of my favorite little books – the last time i checked it was only about $5 from amazon!! a supreme value!!!

  2. Mann yo says:

    Bresson is my master. I want to make films because he made films I watched… My short film and lo-budgie feature screened at sunkdanss but I’ve had no career because they were too stupid (feature) or art (short) or spic (both)for a regular audience…but it was because of Bresson that I did what I did…It’s because of skating (the spirit of gonz) that I keep trying…