By Brian Price
The French auteur Robert Bresson, director of such classics as Diary of a rustic Priest (1951), The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), The satan, most likely (1977), and L’Argent (1983), has lengthy been considered a transcendental filmmaker preoccupied with questions of grace and predestination and little attracted to the issues of the social global. This publication is the 1st to view Bresson’s paintings in an altogether various context. instead of a religious—or spiritual—filmmaker, Bresson is published as an artist steeped in radical, innovative politics.
Situating Bresson in radical and aesthetic political contexts, from surrealism to situationism, Neither God nor grasp exhibits how his early type used to be a version for social resistance. We then see how, after might 1968, his movies have been in reality a chain of reflections at the failure of revolution in France—especially as “failure” is known with regards to Bresson’s selected literary precursors, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and Russian progressive tradition of the 19th century.
Restoring Bresson to the novel political tradition from which he emerged—and to which he remained faithful—Price deals an enormous revision of the recognition of 1 of the main celebrated figures within the background of French movie. In doing so, he increases higher philosophical questions on the efficacy of progressive practices and questions on interpretation and metaphysical traits of movie old study that experience, formerly, long past mostly untested.
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Extra resources for Neither God Nor Master: Robert Bresson and Radical Politics
At the outset, a number of problems appear. Bresson’s use of the minutes most obviously suggests the ﬁlm as an exercise in logocentrism. The words we hear and the images we see are caused by a text that is understood to be the transcription of Joan of Arc’s voice. Bresson is careful to note that the ﬁnal few scenes of her death are derived from a diﬀerent source: from the notes of her sympathizers who were present at her execution. The images are continuous despite the shift in perspective that Bresson cues us to notice at the outset of the ﬁlm.
First, we watch the prisoner, Fontaine, gather the materials he needs to escape, refashioning spoons into knives, bed frames into hooks, sheets into rope. Then we see him slowly chip away at the door frame, listening attentively to prison guards and communicating with the prisoner in the cell next to him in various and indirect ways. Finally, his eﬀorts, which display a high degree of intelligence and courage, lead him safely over the wall and back to freedom—an outcome already ﬁgured in the past tense of the ﬁlm’s title.
In it, we see the thief catch the billfold with his other hand and then slip it beneath his raincoat, which he has draped over his forearm. The camera follows him as he walks away. We see the thief pass the wallet to Michel and carry on to a place just behind the cab, where he and Michel will pretend to wait for another taxi. This last shot ﬁnally opens onto a wider view, but only after the crime has been successfully committed. The three successive close-ups do not allow for views of possible bystanders who, by virtue of being shown, would add an element of suspense.