Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film

Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film

Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film

Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film


Perhaps the most highly regarded French filmmaker after Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson created a new kind of cinema through meticulous refinement of the form's grammatical and expressive possibilities. In thirteen features over a forty-year career, he held to an uncompromising moral vision and aesthetic rigor that remain unmatched. Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film is the first comprehensive study to give equal attention to the films, their literary sources, and psycho-biographical aspects of the work. Concentrating on the films' cinematographic, imagistic, narrative, and thematic structures, Pipolo provides a nuanced analysis of each film-including nearly 100 illustrations-elucidating Bresson's unique style as it evolved from the impassioned Les Anges du p che to such disconsolate meditations on the world as The Devil Probably and L'Argent. Special attention is also given to psychosexual aspects of the films that are usually neglected. Bresson has long needed a thoroughgoing treatment by a critic worthy to the task: he gets it here. From it emerges a provocative portrait of an extraordinary artist whose moral engagement and devotion to the craft of filmmaking are without equal.


The artist’s essential task is not simply to make the most effective work
possible, as viewed in its kind. It is rather to achieve a view of the world
superior to all other views.

—Wayne C. Booth, introduction to Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s
, characterizing Bakhtin’s position

Perhaps the most highly regarded French filmmaker after Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson sustained a reputation as an uncompromising artist throughout his career. in 1957 the director Jacques Rivette remarked, “There is only one [French] film-maker left who has not sold out, and that’s Bresson.” At the time Bresson had made only four films, but the claim proved prophetic. Few filmmakers have clung so tenaciously to the same thematic concerns, exerted such obsessive control over every aspect of their work, and adhered to as harsh a vision of the world. Like Carl-Theodor Dreyer, another idiosyncratic filmmaker sometimes drawn to religious subjects and whose career also spanned nearly half a century, Bresson’s rigorous standards limited his production. in forty years he made only thirteen films.

This book is a highly personal response to these films and to the artistry of their maker. It presumes that Bresson was an extraordinary and unique figure and that the products of his creative imagination, devotion to craft, and lifelong commitment to filmmaking are expressions and extensions of his beliefs, his convictions, and his perceptions of the world. As with Pier Paolo Pasolini or Jean Cocteau, the latter of whom once collaborated with . . .

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