The Moving Image Source Calendar is a selective international guide to retrospectives, screenings, festivals, and exhibitions.
Descriptions are drawn from the calendars of the presenting venues.
January 6–April 8, 2012 at
Gene Siskel Film Center
The Gene Siskel Film Center presents "Robert Bresson," a series of thirteen feature films and one short representing the total oeuvre of one of the cinema's most distinctive and uncompromising artists. All films are being shown in 35mm prints, many of them recently struck and/or imported from Europe.
Born in the Auvergne region of central France, Robert Bresson (1901-1999) began as a painter before switching to the cinema, and he always believed that cinema was closer to painting than to theater or photography. During World War II, Bresson was a prisoner of war for nearly a year-an experience that strongly influenced the themes of freedom and imprisonment that would be so central to his films. His first feature films, Les anges du péché (1943) and Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945), demonstrated a remarkable command of the film medium, although Bresson later considered them to be severely compromised by their use of professional actors, hired screenwriters, and conventional music scores.
Bresson progressively eliminated those impurities in Diary of a Country Priest (1951), A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959), and The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962)-films which distilled his unique style and solidified his reputation as a major director. Bresson's uncompromising approach had limited his output to six films in 22 years. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he entered into a relatively prolific period with Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), Mouchette (1967), Une femme douce (1969), Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971), and Lancelot of the Lake (1974).
These films represent the full flowering of Bresson's mature style, marked by the casting of non-actors rigorously directed to suppress superfluous emotion; the sparse use of "found" scores of classical music; a masterful command of ellipsis to suggest rather than show; the elevation of the soundtrack to equal importance with the imagetrack; themes of spiritual exaltation and despair; and a formal refinement often characterized as austere, although precise might be a better term.
Bresson's final two films, The Devil Probably (1977) and L'argent (1983), are bracing works whose withering vision of the modern world verges on the nihilistic. His plans to follow this apocalyptic diptych with a filming of the Book of Genesis never came to pass.
Although his final film was made almost 30 years ago, and his style is famously idiosyncratic, Bresson's reputation and influence have continued to grow. As Village Voice critic J. Hoberman has written, "There is scarcely a major European director to emerge since 1960 who does not in some way show the influence of Robert Bresson." Michael Haneke, Jia Zhangke, the Dardenne Brothers, Olivier Assayas, and Lynne Ramsay are just a few of the important contemporary directors who cite Bresson as a formative influence on their own work.
The "Robert Bresson" tour has been organized by the TIFF Cinematheque. Special thanks to James Quandt.
Public Affairs (1934); Les anges du péché (1943); Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945); Diary of a Country Priest (1951); A Man Escaped (1956); Pickpocket (1959, pictured); The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962); Au Hasard Balthazar (1966); Mouchette (1967); Une femme douce (1969); Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971); Lancelot of the Lake (1974); The Devil Probably (1977); L'argent (1983)
January 6-19, 2012
Harvard Film Archive
January 20-February 19, 2012
Pacific Film Archive
January 19-February 25, 2012
February 9-March 30, 2012
The Belcourt Theatre
March 9-April 8, 2012
National Gallery of Art
March 3-April 1, 2012