The News Column

This section is updated as warranted.
Responsible Newsdesk Editor: Trond S. Trondsen.
Please submit news updates to newsdesk@robert-bresson.com

About Us | Legalese ]


To link to a specific News Item on robert-bresson.com, link as follows: http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/TheNews.html#yyyy-mm-dd




November 15, 2013

Tim Cawkwell has added a 16th "Reflection on Bresson" to his excellent website. This time, it's on the music for Pickpocket.



October 15, 2013

Greg Gerke reviews Robert Bresson, Revised (ed. James Quandt), here.



August 22, 2013

Tim Cawkwell reviews Bresson par Bresson: Entretiens (1943-1983) (ed. Mylène Bresson), here.



March 22, 2013

A Robert Bresson retrospective is currently underway in Vienna, Austria.



March 4, 2013

The Criterion Collection has announced a March 26 release of A Man Escaped on DVD and Blu. DVDBeaver's review is already up, here

Tim Cawkwell has recently added a 15th Reflection on Bresson to the excellent Bresson section of his site.





October 27, 2012

In the recent 2012 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time poll, Robert Bresson tops the list for the most entries in the top 250 with seven (7) films — and that's not even including Les Anges du péché, Une femme douce or Lancelot du Lac, some of our personal favourites.

Robert Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer is being re-released in Tokyo, Japan today. Our Tokyo correspondent, Yoichi Takagi, reports that Japanese Bresson fans are thrilled by this important event (and they are hopeful for a future DVD release). Check out the beautiful official site. The film will be playing for three weeks in Tokyo and will later hit other major cities in Japan, such as Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka. Here is an interesting relevant blog post.





February 18, 2012

Tim Cawkwell now has 14 Reflections on Bresson posted, as of February 2012. We very much appreciate his thoughtful meditations — please head on over to Tim Cawkwell's Cinema and click Bresson!

An excellent interview with James Quandt, in The Globe & Mail newspaper.

TIFF Cinematheque organizes the North American tour of the first Robert Bresson Restrospective in 14 years [PDF]. The Toronto schedule is listed here. The Gene Siskel Film Center programme is here and it's coming to Nashville in March (Thanks, Rick!). Check local listings for screenings near you. The revised edition of James Quandt's Monograph is (currently) scheduled for a March 23 release.

Excellent collection of Bresson posters.





March 6, 2010

We apologize for the long silence, which was in large part due to busy personal lives. Please submit your contributions to newsdesk (address above). We absolutely depend on reader contributions.

The IFC Center in NYC is screening Pickpocket on March 5–7. Thanks to Peter Brogna for the heads-up!

Site visitor MK Raghavendra has written an essay on Bresson for the web journal phalanx.in. The essay is located here.

The Auteurs' own Neil Young on Robert Bresson, here.

A recent English-language books on Bresson: Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film (Tony Pipolo, 2009).

Tim Cawkwell's 10 Reflections on Bresson.



March 7, 2009

Pacific Cinémathèque and the Consulate General of France present Florence Delay in person, and a screening of Trial of Joan of Arc, in Vancouver, Canada, on April 3, 2009 at 7:30 pm. Additional details on the Cinematheque website.

Site visitor Ruy Vasconcelos of Brazil sent us a scan of the cover of the Brazilian edition of Notes sur le cinématographe (Bibliographical reference: Notas sobre o cinematógrafo, Sao Paulo: Editora Iluminuras,  2004). The book has a brief introduction by J.M.G. Le Clézio, and at the end, stills from many of Bresson's 13 features films and a brief biographical note on the author.








November 1, 2008

Please browse our new, extensive Bresson Bibliography (or, alphabetical version), compiled for us by Frank Blaakmeer with generous contributions from Jane Sloan and Shmuel Ben-Gad. We have also posted a digital version of Jan Sloan's Chapter IV: Writings About Bresson [ from Robert Bresson: a guide to references and resources. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983. ]

Arte Video of France and Germany is releasing Mouchette, and Au Hazard Balthazar.  More info here.  Also available at www.Chapitre.com.  Looks like French language only. Thanks to Wade Rupp for the info!

This year's poster for the Director's Fortnight at Cannes featured Bresson. Apparently, he debuted three films in that section that were deemed too austere for the Official Selection (Four Nights of a Dreamer, Lancelot du Lac, The Devil Probably).



March 29, 2008

Artificial Eye is releasing three Bresson titles in April: A Man Escaped, Lancelot of the Lake, and The Devil, Probably. These will all be available via amazon.co.uk. Also keep an eye on the MovieMail website, where related essays by Bresson-collaborator Jonathan Hourigan will be appearing very shortly. Thanks to Alison Zemell for keeping us updated on these releases.

Kinokuniya of Japan published the Bresson Collection, Vol. 1 a few months ago. The DVD box-set contains The Devil, Probably, Lancelot, and Trial of Joan of Arc. Details on the Kinokuniya website. The google-translated page is perfectly readable.

To whet your appetite, a subtitled fragment from Le Diable probablement may be found on youtube.

Interesting read: Tilda Swinton, une actrice animale.

Two recent books that may be of interest to Bressonians far and wide: (a) Richard T. Kelly's first novel, Crusaders. The book pays homage to, inter alia, Diary of a Country Priest (both novel and film), as well as (b) Rune Christiansen's (rather stunning!) The Absence of Music. Both Richard and Rune are robert-bresson.com site visitors.



November 3, 2007

The British Film Institute's retrospective of Bresson's films at BFI Southbank, under the title Robert Bresson, Probably, has finished.

Screenings were well attended, both for Bresson's own films (each screened twice) and for those where his influence may be detected (for details see BFI's website).

Sadly, neither Une femme douce nor Quatre nuits d'un rêveur could be screened, but Affaires publiques was screened and well-received.

Highlights included Tim Cawkwell's lucid introduction to Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, in which he disentangled free will and grace, Jansenism and the importance of Pascal (see also Jonathan Hourigan's earlier interview with Tim Cawkwell as well as Cawkwell's book, The Filmgoer's Guide to God). Jonathan Hourigan introduced L'Argent, drawing on his experience of working on the film and Roger Crittenden introduced Le Diable, probablement, with a delightful narrative concerning an inspiring three-day workshop in Paris with Bresson and Roger's students from the National Film and Television School.

The panel discussion, chaired by Richard Kelly of Faber and Faber and addressing the proposition Robert Bresson, Probably, was lively. The writer and director Neil Hunter and Jonathan Hourigan concentrated on the singular pleasures of Bresson's films, including their spiritual and formal dimensions and his influence on others, whilst academics and writers Dorota Ostrowska and Rachel Moore placed Bresson in broader cultural, theoretical and historical perspectives. A knowledgeable and passionate audience contributed enormously to the evening.

The most thrilling moments, away from Bresson's films themselves, revolved around Mylene Bresson's gracious and deeply illuminating introductions to Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc and Lancelot du Lac. She peppered fascinating anecdotes with powerful insights into Bresson's process and intentions. Perhaps the most memorable concerned her discussion of Lancelot as Bresson's most enigmatic character.





September 3, 2007

The BFI October program has been distributed, with full details on the upcoming Robert Bresson retrospective. More details on BFI's website: Robert Bresson, probably | Robert Bresson: The Art of Showing Nothing. It would appear that Quatre nuits and Une femme douce are not being screened, unfortunately.

Marco Vanelli, editor of the Italian film-magazine Ciemme, published by Cinit — Cineforum Italiano (one of the national associations of film culture in Italy), sent us a copy of their latest issue, number 152-153, which includes a well-researched article on a biopic on St. Ignace of Loyola which Bresson was commissioned to direct in Italy in 1948 under the supervision of Universalia (a major player in Italy at the time, closely tied to the Vatican). The article is written in Italian, and the price of the issue is 15 Euros. A cover scan is shown on the left (click for a larger version), and here is the Table of Contents. We also note that their Issue 131-132 was devoted to Bresson (cover scan).

Site visitor Rob Farmer informs us that BBC Four broadcast Au Hasard and Mouchette back in July. As Rob put it, "A pleasant surprise to see anything by him at all on TV."


We received the following note from site visitor Michael Partridge of Sheffield, England:

I'm a frequent visitor to your site and have a little advice for those wishing to 
order Les Anges du Peche but don't speak French.

Customers of their country's amazon throughout the english-speaking world will find 
it easier to order via Amazon France (www.amazon.fr). If you're paying by Debit or 
Credit card no conversion of Pounds/Dollars to Euros is necessary. There are even 
english Help Pages available (follow the link called "Consultez nos pages d'aide").

The Euroscreenwriters website has some interesting material on Bresson. And so does the Pacific Film Archives. Thanks to Rob Sica for the latter link.

Filmmaker James Day sent us the following note:

Hello:
 
I think what you're doing with your site is fantastic. I just graduated film school 
and Bresson, who I consider the zenith of cinema, is my favorite director. There's a 
YouTube version of my thesis film and here's the link: http://youtube.com/user/Plautus450.
The film, Santa Susana, runs 14 minutes long and is a story about a young girl, Therese, 
looking to escape from her lifestyle while being pursued by her tutor Gerard. I think more 
than anyone who I've sent the film to, you might be most interested in seeing it given 
the Bresson influences. I hope you find time to view the film. Please pardon the reduced 
visual quality due to the video compression. Hope you're well and please consider kicking 
serious stuff with your site.
 
Sincerely,
 
James Day

And filmmaker Kunal Mehra writes:

[...] I'm an independent filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon and recently completed my feature 
film The Wind Blows Where It Willwindblowswhereitwill.com ].

Its aesthetics and acting were strongly inspired by Robert Bresson (I always carried a copy of 
"Notes on the cinematographer" in my pocket while on set). I also owe much cinematic debt to 
Chantal Akerman. [...]



...we're always thrilled to hear from filmmakers who are also confessed Bressonians. Keep the letters coming!


end block
[ ... ]



July 23, 2007

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne continue to be among our favorite contemporary filmmakers, and they have contributed a three-minute short to the Chacun son cinéma omnibus film celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival this year. It's also an affecionate tribute to Bresson, and can be viewed online here.

July 15, 2007

Our review of Les Anges du Péché is found here.

The British Film Institute is mounting a complete retrospective of Robert Bresson's films, including several by directors influenced by Bresson, in the first half of October. The retrospective is entitled Robert Bresson, Probably. Stay tuned for details.

May 12, 2007

The restored Les Anges du Péché DVD (Gallimard|Synops) is region free, and carries English, Spanish, German, and Italian subs. [ cover scan | screengrab ]. We will bring you a review of this film/DVD very shortly. It may be purhchased from, e.g., chapitre.com or www.cine-memento.fr. The DVDBeaver review is here.

The latest issue of Senses of Cinema features a special Bresson section, containing the following articles:

Jane Sloan kindly agreed to let us post her Critical Survey on our website. She even added a (long overdue) note on L'Argent for us.

There was a screening of Le Diable probablement in New York City, organized by the French Institute Alliance Française, on March 6. The event also included an introduction and Q&A with Benoit Jacquot and Jean-Michel Frodon. Site visitor Brian VandenBos informs us that "...a 35mm print was shown. The print had a lot of dust and dirt, but it was such a treat to see it on the big screen that I soon forgot about those shortcomings. Bresson's sound design really shines through in a cinema experience; DVDs simply cannot do him justice in that regard.".

We have been having email problems here at robert-bresson.com, but the issue has now been rectified. If you recently tried to submit an item to newsdesk and received a bounced message, please try again.

end block
[ ... ]


January 8, 2007

The DVD & script coffret Les Anges du péché is now out. An initial review with some screengrabs is found here.

The January 3 broadcast of L'Avventura (the radio show) with Laure Adler, on France Culture, was dedicated to Les Anges du péché, and Bresson's cinema, with guests Mylène Bresson and Florence Delay. There was also an analysis of the last scene of Pickpocket by Caroline Champetier. The broadcast is available online until the next broadcast, on January 10. (A digital audio recording of the broadcast is preserved in robert-bresson.com archives.)


January 1, 2007

A transcript of Tim Cawkwell's introduction to L'Argent (as presented in the evening of Friday 17th November at University College, Oxford; see previous news update), has just been posted in our WORDS section, here.

Bresson-collaborator Jonathan Hourigan provided us with the following capsule review of Beth Curran's new book.

Beth Kathryn Curran's TOUCHING GOD, THE NOVELS OF GEORGES BERNANOS IN THE 
FILMS OF ROBERT BRESSON (Peter Lang, ISBN 0-8204-7826-1) unfolds across 
four chapters, book-ended with a brief introduction and conclusion. Chapters
One and Three consider Bernanos's novels, JOURNAL D'UN CURE DE CAMPAGNE and
NOUVELLE HISTOIRE DE MOUCHETTE, whilst Chapters Two and Four consider 
Bresson's adaptations of each of these novels.

Curran's book is enticingly short at just 115 pages but still offers close,
lucid and accessible chronological readings of all four texts. Curran reveals
the two artists' differing spiritual concerns and world views and explores 
Bresson's strategies for adaptation (more faithful in the case of LE CURE 
than MOUCHETTE) with considerable insight. Her painstaking analysis of the
famous multi-layered narration in LE JOURNAL is especially useful to serious
scholars of Bresson's work.

Mouchette is a pivotal film in Bresson's oeuvre. His last in black and white
and his last using non-source music. Also the film which sits at the fulcrum
between those films supposedly concerned with redemption and transcendence 
and those whose vision seems more pessimistic (or "lucid" to use Bresson's 
preferred term). The two novels and their adaptations also offer interesting
contrasts in terms of the self consciousness of their protagonists. Curran 
considers Bresson's visual aesthetic and is especially interested to explore
his innovative and expressive use of sound.

TOUCHING GOD concentrates upon its four texts and does not stray far beyond
their boundaries. Its close reading of the four texts is illuminating. 
Curran's book is certainly a welcome addition to Bresson scholarship, perhaps
especially as Bressons approach to adaptation has generally focused more on
the films drawn directly or indirectly from Dostoevsky than from other 
sources. Perhaps Curran will also have pointed the way for another scholar 
to undertake a similar project in relation to Dostoevsky and Bresson.

A Prosperous and Blessed New Year to all our readers!

end block
[ ... ]


November 7, 2006

Tim Cawkwell and Jonathan Hourigan will be introducing L'Argent in the evening of Friday 17th November at University College, Oxford. Any serious and interested outsiders are welcome to attend; please contact Nariman Skakov (nariman.skakov[at]university-college[dot]oxford[dot]ac[dot]uk) for further information.

October 24, 2006

A new Bresson-related book is out: Touching God: The Novels of Georges Bernanos in the Films of Robert Bresson by Beth Kathryn Curran.

October 22, 2006

Criterion has announced Mouchette.

August 24, 2006

There will be a Bresson retrospective on the Swedish Cinemateks of Gothenburg, Malmoe and Stockholm, Sweden. More information here [ Thanks to Arvid Sollenby for the information!].



We have had the chance to watch Intermedio's DVD release of El Diablo Probablemente. A newly restored transfer forms the basis of this release, and the image quality is simply stunning. French, with Spanish subtitles. Aditional details here. Some screenshots: [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | menu | menu ].






June 18, 2006

Full details on the upcoming Intermedio (Spain) DVD releases: A Man Escaped | Lancelot du Lac | The Devil, Probably | The Road to Bresson (and more).

As noted in the Documentaries section of our sister site Nostalghia.com (here), Road to Bresson/De Weg naar Bresson has earlier been published on DVD by the Dutch Filmmuseum (filmmuseum.nl). Spoken languages are Dutch, French, English, and Russian, but the Filmmuseum DVD contains no English subtitles. Site visitor Jacob Dijkstra of The Netherlands therefore took it upon himself to diligently transcribe the film into English. Also, we provided him with a DVD copy of the widely circulated English subtitled recording of the documentary, as recorded off of British television. This enabled him to also assess the accuracy of this version (subtitles, narration). The final result is contained in this PDF document.

Intermedio's Bresson DVDs include a Bresson Bibliography compiled by Fran Benavente. Intermedio have kindly given us permission to post a PDF version of the bibliography here on robert-bresson.com. It will find its permanent home in the Words section. Also watch for robert-bresson.com's own comprehensive Bresson Bibliography, to be published in the Fall. This work, coordinated by Frank Blaakmeer, will include detailed bibliographies/annotations generously donated by Shmuel Ben-Gad, Jane Sloan, and Hans Helmut Prinzler. The end result promises to be the most comprehensive Bresson bibliography ever published.

A summary of Bresson on DVD is found in the latest Senses of Cinema, here...

A letter from a reader in France:

Bonjour,

Sur le site de l'Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (ina.fr) plusieurs
interviews de Robert Bresson et de ses "modèles" sont disponibles en
visionnage gratuit.

Bien amicalement.
Philippe Leclert

Amazon.fr's listing for Diary of a Country Priest from Studio Canal now contains more and different information (though it still contains the same cover, complete with the same embarrassing faux pas). In the past it had said it was unavailable. It now says it is available in one to two days (in France, no doubt), and gives a review of the film. We are not saying it is definitively available, but it gives the appearance of being available now. Also a box set of Mouchette, and Au hasard Balthazar is available from Gaumont/TriStar Home Video — but the covers are the same as the Arte versions. (Thanks to Wade Rupp for these observations).

April 11, 2006

Intermedio, Barcelona, Spain, report that they will release DVD editions of Bresson's Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (1956), Le Diable probablement (1977), and Lancelot du Lac (1974). The releases are slated for end of May. As well, Intermedio will be releasing a 4th DVD containing the documentary film The road to Bresson (Weg naar Bresson) by Boer and Rood, with other bonus materials yet to be confirmed.

March 11, 2006

A good article on Bresson in the latest Cineaste magazine: read Tony Pipolo's Robert Bresson: Fire and Ice.


end block
[ ... ]


February 12, 2006

Jonathan Hourigan, L'Argent crew-member and frequent robert-bresson consultant/contributor (see, e.g., Inside Bresson's L'Argent and Interview with Tim Cawkwell) will be speaking on Bresson on three occasions in the UK in the next few weeks. On Monday, 27th February, at Exeter University, he discusses screenwriting and working with Bresson. On Thursday, 23rd February and Thursday, 30th March, at Middlesex University he considers Bresson as a theorist. On Thursday, 23rd February, he discusses the Notes on Cinematography after a screening of Mouchette and on Thursday, 30th March, he looks closely at L'Argent, following a screening of the film.

Hoberman's piece on Pickpocket and Mouchette is found here.

January 13, 2006

The Cinematheque Ontario present Three by Bresson during the period February 26 to March 5, 2006. Diary of a Country Priest screens Sunday, February 26 at 3:00 p.m. Mouchette on Friday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m and Sunday, March 5 at 1:00 p.m. Au Hasard Balthazar is being screened on Saturday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art have scheduled four screenings of Mouchette. There will be two screenings on Friday, January 20 at 7:30 and 9:30 and two more on Saturday January 21st at the same times. The schedule is also available via the LACMA website.

The announced Gaumont DVD release of Un condamné à mort s'est échappé has officially transitioned from a (repeatedly) Delayed status, to a current status of "Cancelled". The title has been pulled from most e-tailer websites. We hope to bring you more information as soon as it is available.

In our March 10, 2004 news update, site visitor Ian Booker requested more information on Rachel Berendt (Marie-Monique Arkell) who was featured in The Diary of a Country Priest and who is likely a relation of his. We have received a helpful letter from another person who is also related to Rachel Berendt, and we would like to put this person in touch with Mr. Booker directly. However, Mr. Booker's email address no longer appears to be working. Do any of our readers have Mr. Booker's contact information? Please contact newsdesk.

November 22, 2005

The Oak Street Theatre in Minneapolis is screening five key Bresson films between November 18th and December 15th. Each film is slated for a weeklong run. In addition to classic prints of A Man Escaped and L'Argent, the Oak Street will screen new prints of Mouchette, Au Hasard Balthazar, and Pickpcoket. [ Thanks to Dave Andrae, Milwaukee, WI/Minneapolis, MN ].

DVDBeaver's Pickpocket comparison DVD review is found here.

November 4, 2005

The Listen With Your Eyes project is screening Au Hasard Balthazar on Saturday, November 12 at 7:00 pm at the Rosendale Theatre, Rosendale, NY. Also, Dvortsevoy's documentaries screen Friday, November 11, at 7:00 pm. Further details on the website.

Boston-area screenings of Bresson and Dreyer continue this month at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge as a part of their Jacques Doillon series: A Man Escaped on Saturday, November 12 at 2:30 pm and Wednesday, November 16 at 9:30 pm. Dreyer's Day of Wrath screens on Wednesday, November 16 at 4:45 pm. And over at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, there's a startling screening of a rare Dreyer silent, with live jazz accompaniment: Love One Another (1922) on Thursday, November 10 at 8:30 pm [ Thanks to Matthew Packwood for the info ].

On a somewhat different note: Patent absurdity reaches new heights, here ("Process of relaying a story having a unique plot"). Behold where the idiocy of Software patents have led us...



October 29, 2005

In our October 10 newsbrief, we uncharacteristically sided with Armond White of the The New York Press after David Ehrenstein's rebuttal began echoing in various blogs and film fora the past couple weeks. We carefully avoided commenting on Gary Indiana's essay itself, as we (as with most of the people in the debates) had not yet had an occasion to read it – screening copies of Criterion's Pickpocket DVD are only now being distributed. Having now read Mr. Indiana's essay, it has become apparent to us that much of the recent debates has involved supplementary issues outside the focus of his essay. While we continue to stand by our position in the Ehrenstein vs. White dispute, we're offering Mr. Indiana the chance to voice his own rebuttal to White (which he does in his own, well-known polemical style). We welcome a diversity of interpretations regarding the work of Bresson and trust our readers to obtain a copy of Mr. Indiana's essay and draw their own conclusions.


Dear News Desk,

I think it might have been useful for the nincompoop who
trashed my essay on Bresson in the New York Press to have
read the actual sentences it contained instead of picking
out buzz words that apparently threw him into such a tizzy
that he forgot to take his medication.  Virtually everything
he accuses me of saying was taken so absurdly out of context
that this little storm in a teacup created the false
impression that I said that Michel "rubbed up against people
to cop an orgasm," when the actual sentence likens the act
of pickpocketing to other forms of subway importunity; the
reference to "finding hundreds of lovers in prison" was
clearly a reference to Genet's famous interview on the BBC
regarding his tenure in the Mettray Reformatory; I did not
equate Michel with Camus' Merseault but rather said that any
such comparison lacked real validity.  I did, in fact, state
that for Michel the act of pickpocketing had a psychosexual
dimension and that in the real world we live in today, the
Dostoevskian redemptive ending was unlikely to unfold in the
manner suggested by such mannerist auteurs as Paul
Schraeder; in Dostoevski's time, being sent to prison did
not exclude you from the community of fellow humans.
Peasants stood at rail stations to deliver bundles of food
to convicts being shipped to Siberia.  I'd like to know who
in today's world has the simple humanity to do anything
remotely similar.  Having spent a good deal of time visiting
contemporary prisons in both America and France, I can
assure you that attitudes towards the incarcerated, and the
brutalization they experience there, do not produce
rehabilitated criminals of any type.  Furthermore, I am not
unacquainted with persons who knew Bresson quite well, and
have it on excellent authority that he was thoroughly
familiar with the writings of Guy Debord and took them quite
seriously.  The journalist who attacked me chose to
misrepresent what I wrote as glib, nihilistic, and
disrespectful of Bresson's artistic intentions.  Nothing
could be further from the truth.  I have studied all
Bresson's films for many years and if my own opinion
indicates a waning of faith on his part, I am hardly alone
in that assessment.  Unfortunately, most American
journalists not only cannot read French but take no interest
in any body of criticism that hasn't been generated by the
outpouring of received ideas American critics attach to any
non-American artists.

I am no longer surprised that when a writer is attacked by a
hack with a grudge, the press simply piles on the abuse and
never bothers to read closely any text under attack, but I
would expect better of an organization which I assume is
dedicated to fairly appraising things written about Bresson
instead of jumping on a rather nasty and ill-intentioned
bandwagon.  Furthermore, the New York Press article was
apparently personally directed at myself for being what the
writer considers "the wrong kind of homosexual." That is to
say, the kind that mentions, even very much en passant, the
erotic dimension of Michel's apprenticeship to a master
thief and to the act of theft itself.

It is hardly my fault that this journalist does not know how
to read English.  That he doesn't know how to read French is
a given, considering the kind of people hired by
publications of this type.  But please, before taking it on
trust that some hack's juvenile misreading of a carefully
considered piece of writing deserves repeating ad nauseam,
take the trouble to read the text being parsed so mindlessly
and consider also that simply because I do not share the
pieties of someone who knows nothing about Bresson except to
associate him with the word "Christian," this hardly means
that I have grossly misrepresented his work, and I would
certainly not be motivated by the shabby and dismissive
disregard this so-called writer has attributed to me.

I realize this is rather a dead issue at this point but I do
find it infuriating that so many people who write for
worthless giveaway fishwrap take sick pleasure in twisting
the carefully considered writing of their betters.  And I
am, as far as I'm concerned, certainly not an inhabitant of
the crapulous world of submental journalists.

Very truly yours,

Gary Indiana


In subsequent correspondence, Mr. Indiana adds,...


[...]

I do, and did at the time, understand that certain
statements in my essay would elicit very contrary views.
And it is indisputably true that my polemical style can be
abrasive to people who fail to see its intentionally
humorous aspects.  However, it never occurred to me that
anyone willing to pay the rather steep cost of a Criterion 
DVD would lack the sophistication to distinguish an
unorthodox analysis from a facile screed.  Even given that  
this all arose before the DVD was even issued, because for
reasons still unclear to me the essay was provided to Film
Forum and blown up as a lobby card, it seems no less
surprising that patrons of Film Forum would exhibit such a
woeful lack of sophistication and tolerance for divergent
opinions.

[...]


Finally, let us add our own two cents' worth. That humour is indeed often a subjective experience, and that there will always be diverging opinions, can be illustrated by contrasting the following two quotes:

Peter Cowie: "Not that I'm against Dreyer, he possessed a humorous streak that unfortunately never entered Bresson's personality." [Commentary track, the Criterion Edition of Diary of a Country Priest]
Gary Indiana: "Critics frequently link Bresson with Carl Dreyer, which is a bit like pairing August Strindberg with Henrik Ibsen. Like Ibsen, Dreyer has a seamless lack of humor and a solemnity that gives his films the gravity of a cancer operation. In Bresson, however, the absurdity that delicately fringes Strindberg's dark dramas echoes in whole passages of deliberately idiotic dialogue, in actions that speak volumes about nothing but feel uncomfortably textured like real life. Dreyer boils life down to its pivotal moments; Bresson shows that most of our lives are consumed by meaningless routines. This can be startlingly funny, just when you thought a Bresson movie couldn't become more grim." [Essay in DVD booklet, the Criterion Edition of Pickpocket, quoted with the kind permission of the author]

Our own – shockingly noncategorical and decidedly non-vogue – opinion is that both Dreyer and Bresson possessed a rather profound sense of humour. Two examples that immediately come to mind are Dreyer's The Parson's Widow and Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer, e.g., the drawn-out shoot-out scene in the film-within-a-film (Bresson's little joke). Bresson's general use of irony in his ellipses and reversals is also often very refined. Dreyer's brilliant sense of humour is plain obvious and needs no further introduction.



October 25, 2005

We have received a response from Gary Indiana regarding the issues brought up in the previous two news items. We will bring you his letter in its entirety, later this week.


Having numerous readers in Australia, we decided to take a closer look at the recent batch of Australian Bresson DVDs (see our April 6 and April 30 news updates, as well as the October 10 followup). The titles released to date are Pickpocket, Joan of Arc and L'Argent (with Au hasard Balthazar and Mouchette to follow next year). All three DVDs are released by the discerning áccent Film Entertainment, and authored by IML Digital (who, incidentally, have worked with us on the Masters of Cinema DVD Series). All discs are Region 0 (no region coding), PAL, and they carry easily readable English subtitles.

Pickpocket: The digital transfer is very satisfying indeed; it is similar to, but perhaps a bit sharper than, that used by Artificial Eye in the U.K., reviewed here. Some example screenshots: [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]. áccent include tastefully designed animated menus which differ from those used by mk2 and AE [ main menu | chapter selection menu | special features menu ]. Babette Mangolte's documentary The Models of Pickpocket is included as the only video extra (aside from an áccent-designed, non-original trailer). The DVD booklet contains a fine essay by Adrian Martin, called The Prince of Pickpocket, wherein he points out an interesting, and hitherto unremarked, Australian connection hidden within the film.

Joan of Arc: Another beautiful film-to-video transfer, a slightly improved version of the mk2-sourced material used by Artificial Eye in the U.K., reviewed here [ example screenshot ]. The menus are again radically different from those found on the mk2/AE releases [ main menu | chapter selection menu | special features menu  ] (all menus are animated and best appreciated in full motion video). The Special Features are identical to those contained on the mk2/AE releases. However, the two interviews with Bresson are here combined into one single piece with a chapter stop at the transition point. The Burning Issues of History extra seen on the menu screenshot is the same as the Georges Duby and Laure Adler segment found on the mk2/AE discs. An original essay by Adrian Martin, Prisoner, found in the DVD booklet, rounds off the package.

L'Argent: The transfer is very similar to that used by Artificial Eye, reviewed here. See also our own review of the film itself and the Region 1 New Yorker disc. The image quality is in our opinion quite excellent, and superior to that offered by the Region 1 disc — here is a random screengrab. The menus are again a radical departure from the standard mk2/AE menus: [ main menu | chapter selection menu | bonus features menu ]. The Special Features consist of an original trailer and a "documentary". This documentary is actually the Marguerite Duras on Bresson (1:27) and TSR Interview with Robert Bresson (12:56) segments (found on the mk2 and AE discs) joined together, with a chapter stop in between. The TF1 Interview is not included. The DVD booklet includes an essay by Adrian Martin, called Show me the Money.

All three discs come highly recommended, as they are all based on the original mk2 materials restored under the supervision of Mylène Bresson — and it is all very professionally presented by áccent Film Entertainment. áccent inform us that they put considerable effort into improving upon the original mk2 materials.



October 11, 2005

Further to yesterday's news update, we have received the following response from David Ehrenstein.

Dear Mr. Trondsen:
 
I find your characterization of my remarks on Bresson tantamount to a 
wilful misreading of them. I do not "deny" Bresson's Christianity as 
reflexively as you imply. I was simply pointing out that Bresson began 
his career on a relatively unproblematic note, vis-a-vis spiritual 
concerns, that gradually altered so radically that his final films are 
those of an atheist. It is disheartening to see Bresson's lengthy, 
distinguished and complex career be reduced to a simple common 
denominator of unreflexive religious belief when it was plainly anything 
but. Likewise the almost deafening silence that has fallen over the 
blatant homoeroticism of Pickpocket, Le Diable Probablement, Au Hasard 
Balthazar and (my personal favorite) Un condamne a mort s'est echappe.
 
Very sincerely yours,
 
David Ehrenstein
Los Angeles, Ca.
www.ehrensteinland.com

We genuinely appreciate Mr. Ehrenstein's reply, but would point out that Bresson's "lengthy, distinguished, and complex career" also resists reducing his late period films to an atheistic label, and would emphasize the theism Bresson conveyed in interviews well into the '70s and '80s (see e.g., Schrader, Hayman, Ciment, Samuels, and others). Let us hope future Bressonian criticism can withstand exclusive categories and boxes imposed from all sides of the debate.

The Metro Cinema in Edmonton, Canada, is screening Pickpocket November 25 to 28. The full programme is found here [ Thanks to Kyle Armstrong for the heads-up ].

We recently received the following friendly greeting from Finland:

Hello and thank you for your valuable work in keeping the works of Bresson 
on our minds.  And showing that the Internet can indeed provide a place for 
topics that are both intellectual and interesting. And a special thank you 
for your good taste in the site design.
 
I was one of the people in Finland forming the Kokkolan Elokuvakerho Outolempi 
(Cine Club Strangelove) in the litte coastal city of Kokkola in the eighties. 
As part of our programme, we ran a week of Bresson films [ 1 | 2 ], and that 
gave us an idea of compiling a book of texts about Bresson into Finnish, because 
none was available at the time. So we found people to translate Paul Schrader's 
and Susan Sontag's essays on the subject plus other more recent writings. Then 
our Board Member, Mr. Pertti Hyttinen, sent a letter to Mr. Bresson  (translated 
into French by our Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Outi Aimo-Koivisto) asking 
permission to translate and add his Notes sur le cinèmatographe (1975) 
into the book (to form its basis, of course).
 
This is what Monsieur Bresson wrote to Mr. Hyttinen:
 
		"Paris Le 14 Juillet 1988
		Monsieur,
		Je vous remercie de l'interet que vous portez
		a mon petit livre Notes sur le cinematographe
		et vous autorise bien volontiers àle publier en finnois.
		Veillez agreer, Monsieur, l'expression de mes
		meilleurs sentiments.
		 
		Robert Bresson"
 
I would be glad to send this book, "Merkintäjä Robert Bressonista" (published 
in 1989 in Kokkola, Finland, by our cine club with the pariticipation the 
Institute Chydenius), to you, to be added to your collection of Bresson literature 
and memorabilia, as a gift from Finland as thanks to your work on Bresson, and the 
immense pleasure it gives Bresson aficionados around the globe. The book is 
illustrated, there is also a rare photo by Finnish film critic Jaakko Tervasmäki 
of Bresson in Cannes in 1962, and also Bresson's letter is copied into the book.
 
For this reason, I would need your address.
 

Yours faithfully,
 
Hannu Björkbacka
Film Critic 
Keskipohjanmaa newspaper 
www.keskipohjanmaa.net (kulttuuri - elokuvat) [elokuvat = films]
Kokkola
Finland


October 10, 2005

As many of our readers will undoubtedly be aware of, in the last few days a controversy has erupted surrounding Bresson. To wit: in The New York Press, Armond White takes Gary Indiana to task for trying to deny the religious meanings in Bresson's work, by attempting to define Bresson in existentialist, nihilist, and anarchistic terms. Armond White is here referring to Indiana's essay on Pickpocket, which is included in the Criterion Collection DVD. Within a day of Armond White's piece being published, David Ehrenstein wrote a rebuttal in his October 6th FaBlog entry, stating that all artists should be open to reinterpretation, and that adhering to the "rule" that (say) Bresson should only be looked at as a Catholic artist is ridiculous.

While not always a fan of Armond White, we most certainly do agree with him in this case. Trying to make Bresson into something he likely wasn't doesn't seem to us to be "reinterpretation," but rather an attempt to change the actual meaning of his work. We respect personal readings so long as they are identified as personal readings. If Mr. Ehrenstein wants to construct a personalized reading of Bresson's work, he's more than welcome to do so, as long as he acknowledges his subjectivity. To suggest that Bresson's religious convictions (so often if cautiously acknowledged by Bresson) are somehow passé in this day and age – and therefore should be ignored – is flatly irresponsible scholarship. The fact that Mr. Ehrenstein's rebuttal conflates the "Christianity" of Bresson with the "Christianity" of George W. Bush reveals a profound lack of understanding and a flippant cultural reactionism that only supports White's argument.

Paul Schrader is being interviewed by WNYC — here [ mp3 audio file, 7 MB ].

Cinematheque Ontario presents Pickpocket in its new 35mm print for a limited run, October 14, 15, and 16. More details here.

Les Anges du Peche is screening in NFT2, London, at 8:45 pm, Monday 31st Oct – as billed in the London Film Festival catalogue. Mylène Bresson is expected to be present. Additional details here.

Rialto's Mouchette page is now up, here

Site visitor Dean Schneider writes: "You mentioned on the news page the release of Bresson's films Pickpocket, Trial of Joan of Arc and L'Argent on DVD in Australia but you have thus far not made any more mention of them. I have so far only bought Pickpocket, and it is a very good disc. The picture and sound on the film are of first rate quality, and the documentary Les Modeles de Bresson is very good."


September 10, 2005

On the 28th and 29th of October, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will show Pickpocket and Mouchette (both movies on both days), presumably the same new 35 mm prints that are showing in mid-October at Film Forum. More details here. [ Thanks to Thomas Treasure and Matthew Packwood for the heads-up ].

The Criterion Edition of Pickpocket (link) will contain an audio commentary by James Quandt, a video introduction by Paul Schrader, an essay by novelist and culture critic Gary Indiana, as well as new and improved English subtitle translation. All other bonus materials are identical to those of the MK2/AE release.


July 27, 2005

The latest issue of Senses of Cinema has a very good article on Bresson by Alex Lipschultz, called The Resolute Aesthetic: Bresson's Lancelot du Lac [ Thanks to Frank Blaakmeer for the pointer ].

Film Forum, New York, report that they will be showing Pickpocket in a new 35 mm print (through Janus) October 7 – 13. Paul Schrader will be introducing a show on opening night. Also, Mouchette will be screened in a new 35 mm print (through Rialto Pictures) October 14 – 20.

The World Socialist Web Site carries a newly published article on L'Argent, The state of the modern soul by David Walsh [ Many thanks to Eddie Kasica for the update ].

We don't normally read this guy, but apparently he has quite a following... search for the word "Balthazar" on this page.


July 12, 2005

Criterion is poised to release Pickpocket (R1/NTSC) in November. There will be no commentary track, but a new documentary will be included as a bonus feature on the DVD [ Thanks to Antony Sellers for the update ]. We note that this release was hinted about by Paul Schrader in various fora already back in late 2003. It is thus reasonable to expect that he is involved somehow in the aforementioned documentary feature (instead of what many thought would be a commentary track).


June 22, 2005

Our own review of Criterion's Au hasard Balthazar DVD is located here.

The Savant also has a review of Criterion's Au hasard Balthazar, found here.

And, finally, a review of Artificial Eye's Trial of Joan of Arc DVD is found at DVDTimes, here.


June 15, 2005

Our review of New Yorker's L'Argent DVD is found here.


May 11, 2005

The Centre national de la cinématographie, Paris, France, sent this information on the restoration of Les Anges du péché (1943). The CNC are actively collaborating with Gallimard on this restoration. The restored film will be screened during the Cannes Festival. A world-wide DVD release is in the works. Stay tuned.


April 30, 2005

A Man Escaped will screen as part of LACMA's new French Cinema and the Occupation series on May 14.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London is showing Mouchette on the 2nd and 5th May. More details here.

A review of the Australian Pickpocket release (Accent) may be found here. A review of the U.K. Pickpocket release (Artificial Eye) is located here. Regarding U.K. DVD prices, here is one of the better price comparison sites out there. [ Thanks, Wayne Spencer ]

The Criterion Edition of Au hasard Balthazar is slated for a June 14 release.


April 16, 2005

Site reader Harry Tuttle kindly provided us with a copy of his lecture notes, taken down at the April 9 lecture by historian François de la Bretèque (see our March 21 newsbrief).


April 15, 2005

The second (and arguably the most interesting) part of Jonathan Hourigan's interview with Tim Cawkwell is found here.

British newspapers have carried a number of capsule reviews of Pickpocket in connection with its theatrical re-release, see Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Artificial Eye press booklet for the film can be found here (PDF file). [Thanks, Wayne Spencer!]


April 7, 2005

In a rather brilliant move, New Yorker has decided to base their DVD cover on Savignac's L'Argent artwork — see the DVD cover here.

This week's issue of the London listings magazine Time Out carries a review of the cinema re-release Pickpocket by Wally Hammond: "Released in the same year as Godard's BREATHLESS (1959) and filmed on the same sun-dappled Parisian streets, Bresson's mid-career tale of the mysterious operation of grace and redemption on the fate of a young thief is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Newcomers to Bresson's films — and this new print re-release of PICKPOCKET is as fine a place as any to enter his unique cinematic universe — may be surprised to hear that this is perhaps his most optimistic, open, sensuous and sexually charged film, given its dark Dostoyevskian subject matter. Even for those used to Kiarostami's minimalism, this is a further step into essentialism. Bresson's actors — 'models' — are non-professional and strictly coached; but there is no mistaking the orgasmic pleasure that sweeps the face of indolent, penurious student Michel (Martin LaSalle) as he succeeds on his first 'dip' at Longchamps racecourse; nor his despair as his world begins to fall apart. Bresson's goals were deep; to sweep away the dross of expectation and viewing conventions by means of a purified cinema. At times in this thief's journal — the extended train station robbery sequence, for instance — his visual discourse touches the sublime." Source: Time Out London Issue 1807: April 6-13 2005, page 76. [Thanks to Wayne Spencer for this item.]


April 6, 2005

Some online retailers have announced that New Yorker's upcoming L'Argent DVD will include a commentary track by Kent Jones. This is a substantial new "bonus" which is not found on the MK2/AE versions. New Yorker DVD producer extraordinaire Cindi Rowell gets all the credit for pulling off this feat! Those who haven't done so already should also check out Kent's excellent BFI Modern Classics book, L'Argent.

It is high time we mention the Australian DVD releases of Bresson's films. The Australian company doing this is called Accent. Pickpocket has just been released, replete with Babette Mangolte's documentary. Trial of Joan of Arc is slated for a May release. With each of Accent's Bresson DVD releases — there will apparently be 5 or 6, all English subtitled of course — there is a new essay on the film in question, unavailable anywhere else, written by none other than our esteemed colleague Adrian Martin of Rouge. Rumors are that Accent will eventually do a complete Bresson Box Set.

Cover art and other details of Artificial Eye's Pickpocket release can be accessed via MovieMail.

Petr of Nostalghia.cz tells us that he has just reprinted Petr Malek's substantial 1998 analysis of Diary of Country Priest: section 1 | section 2 | section 3 | section 4. All in Czech.

A new course is being offered at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada this fall, namely FS 410 FILMMAKERS Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson.


April 3, 2005

We are pleased to bring you an interview with Tim Cawkwell, onetime avant-garde filmmaker and author of the recently published The Filmgoer's Guide to God. In a two-part interview with Jonathan Hourigan, Cawkwell explores spiritual cinema in general (part one, published today) and the oeuvre and practice of Robert Bresson in particular (part two, to be brought to you next week). Cawkwell illuminates mysteries such as Bresson’s Jansenism and his commitment to Pacsal. He considers the intellectual and historical milieu that informed Bresson’s development. In perhaps the most exciting and original part of the interview, Cawkwell offers penetrating insights into Bresson’s practice and its antecedents in spiritual life and practice. During a discussion that complements themes from Hourigan’s own recent interview with Colin Burnett, Cawkwell’s insights cast new light, especially on Bresson’s choice of narrative sources and his conception of Cinematography. Now, move on to Part 1 of the interview, found here.

Some online retailers are now taking pre-orders for New Yorker's L'Argent DVD, due to be released on May 24.

Our friends over at DVDBeaver.com have reviewed the MK2 boxset, here.


April 2, 2005

There is a very interesting piece in the newspaper Libération about the recent Bresson DVD releases in France. The article makes reference to several planned Bonus materials that never made it onto the discs. We also learn that MK2, ARTE and Gaumont have been working closely together on this project and that they initially planned to release their Bresson DVDs simultaneously, on the very same day. This obviously did not work out, but they still plan to release, at some point in time, The Complete Robert Bresson as one single DVD box-set. The article, which is mandatory reading, is located here, and a rough English translation can be found here (courtesy of the Babel Fish automatic translation service). [Thanks to David Pouchard of the Ministère de la culture et de la communication for pointing us to the Libération article]

The long-awaited Criterion Edition of Au hasard Balthazar has been announced as "Coming Soon".


March 25, 2005

Now out on DVD in France: Mouchette and Au hasard Balthazar, both on Arte Vidéo.

The box set containing A Man Escaped/Lancelot du Lac/The Devil, Probably is still planned by Gaumont, but has been postponed until Fall (our DVD Release Calendar has been updated accordingly). [Thanks to David Pouchard for both of the above updates.]

Details of a week-long run of a new 35mm print of Pickpocket at the Renoir in London between 8-14 April 2005 are now available at the Artificial Eye website. Some release dates for the Artificial Eye Bresson DVDs are given here, and it all seems to line up with what we alreay have in our DVD Release Calendar. [Thanks to Wayne Spencer for the info.]

The Devil, Probably  will screen at the Nashville Film Festival on Saturday, April 16th at 1:15 pm, according to their website. The film will be introduced by Harmony Korine. Tickets are on sale now through ticketweb.com. [Thanks to Brandon Bentley for the headsup.]

In connection with the MK2 re-release of Pickpocket/Procés/L'Argent, here is a fine article by Philippe Azoury, La trinité de Bresson.

The "press conference" that was supposed to be included on the L'Argent disc of the MK2 DVD set appears to be missing from the DVD.


March 21, 2005

MK2 will be releasing their three Bresson films on one screen at the MK2 Parnasse (Paris, France) theatre on the occasion of their DVD release (see also our February 12 newsbrief below). More details here. Further, Lancelot du lac will be screened on Saturday April 9 at 11:45 am at the Reflet Médicis venue in Paris for a debate with François de la Bretèque (historian on medieval culture) who just published a book L'imaginaire Médiéval dans le cinéma occidental (Medieval Imaginary in Western Cinema). [Thanks to site reader Harry Tuttle of Screenville for this update.]


March 18, 2005

A review of the MK2 Coffret Bresson is found here. Several screenshots are included (films, menus, and extras). It's a rather confusing website, but try to follow the small links at the bottom page.


February 24, 2005

Thanks to Brian Burke, we now have a page dedicated to the Status of Robert Bresson's Films on DVD. We solemnly pledge to keep it a jour.


February 21, 2005

Cover art for the upcoming mk2 DVD box can now be viewed at the Boutique MK2. [Thanks to Wayne Spencer for notifying us ]. Note that this important release does indeed have English subtitles (see also our November 30, 2004 news item). For those in North America who still cannot play discs from Europe (PAL/Region2), simply drop by your nearest major consumer electronics store and pick up, for example, the fine Philips 642 PAL-capable DVD player (normally retails for less than $59). It can be made Region Free very easily via the included remote control [details].


February 17, 2005

The bonus materials included on the upcoming Artificial Eye Pickpocket DVD are: Interview with Robert Bresson; The Models of Pickpocket — interviews with Martin Lassalle, Marika Green and Piere Leymarie; Around Pickpocket — discussions with Marika Green, Jean-Pierre Améris and Paul Vecchialli; Kassagi cabaret performance; Trailer.


February 12, 2005

We are pleased to bring you a conversation with filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit [ website ], winner of the inaugural Prix Robert Bresson.

Michael Dudok de Wit's Academy Award-winning animated short Father and Daughter will be screened in front of Pickpocket when the latter is re-released by MK2 in Paris cinemas in mid-March.


February 11, 2005

Mike Fleisch [ website ] reports that UW-Milwaukee will be screening Pickpocket on the 15th and 17th of this month, and Les modeles de Pickpocket on the 16th. Admission is free. More details here.

French film editor Damien Maestraggi informs robert-bresson.com that Humbert Balsan, prominent French producer and actor in Lancelot du Lac (Gawain) as well as first assistant director on Le Diable Probablement, died last Monday, February 7. What follows is today's press release from the cinémathèque, first in French and then followed by an English translation.

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE CINÉMATHÈQUE FRANÇAISE

Claude Berri, Président, Martine Offroy, vice-Présidente, 
Serge Toubiana, Directeur général, l'ensemble du Conseil 
d'Administration et tout le personnel de la Cinémathèque 
française ont appris avec émotion et tristesse le décès
d'Humbert Balsan, producteur et acteur, vice-Président de 
la Cinémathèque française depuis le 20 juin 2000, et Président
de l'Académie Européenne du cinéma.  Ils s'associent à 
la douleur de sa famille, de ses proches et de ses collaborateurs.

Acteur en 1973 dans Lancelot du Lac de Robert Bresson, Humbert 
Balsan a joué dans de nombreux films, dont Loulou de Maurice 
Pialat (1980). En 1976, il est assistant à la mise en scène sur 
Le Diable probablement de Robert Bresson. En 1977, il réalise un 
portrait de Nadia Boulanger.  Il devient producteur en 1978, avec 
Le Soleil en face de Pierre Kast. Depuis lors, il enchaîne de 
nombreux films, totalisant à ce jour une cinquantaine d'œuvres, 
parmi lesquelles Quartet de James Ivory, tous les films de son ami
Youssef Chahine depuis Adieu Bonaparte (1984): Alexandrie, encore
et toujours, L'émigré, Le Destin, L'Autre, Silence... on 
tourne, et Alexandrie...  New York.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE FRENCH CINÉMATHÈQUE

Claude Berri, President, Martine Offroy, vice-president, Serge
Toubiana, General manager, the whole of the Board of Directors 
and all the personnel of the French Cinemathèque learned 
with emotion and sadness the death of Humbert Balsan, producer 
and actor, vice-president of French cineclub since June 20, 2000 
and president of the European Academy of Cinema.  They offer 
their condolances to the grieving family, friends, and collaborators.

Actor in 1973 in Robert Bresson's Lancelot du Lac, Humbert Balsan 
played in many films, one of which was Maurice Pialat's Loulou (1980). 
In 1976, he was assistant director for Robert Bresson in Le Diable 
Probablement.  In 1977 he directed a portrait of Nadia Boulanger.
He becomes producer in 1978, with "Le Soleil en Face" by Pierre 
Kast.  Since then, he produces several films, adding up to about 
fifty works to date among which were James Ivory's Quartet, all the 
movies of his friend Youssef Chahine since Adieu Bonaparte (1984):
Alexandrie, encore et toujours, L'émigré, Le Destin, L'Autre,
Silence...  on tourne, et Alexandrie...  New York...


February 1, 2005

Artificial Eye are finally wheeling out Pickpocket (April 25), L'Argent (May 23), and Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (May 23). No DVD cover art yet.

Mani Kaul's first film, Daily Bread (1970), was screened last night at CalArt's REDCAT theatre with the director in attendance. At the event, it was announced that he will be teaching a class on Bresson this semester. The course is called The Work of Robert Bresson: Fragmentation and Meaning. Excerpt from the course description: "Bresson claimed to have forsaken 'representation' in favor of what he described as 'fragmentation.' Representation for him led to a descriptive as opposed to a visionary cinema he strove for through fragmentation. A single image or a single sound thus carried no semantic spillover—it was the juxtaposition of neutral fragments that reveal meaning and emotion through elliptical gaps between them. The class offers an analysis of Bresson's films with reference to his book, Notes on the Cinematographer."

We recently received the following letter from Paris, and thought you might find it of interest.

From   : Franck Poncelet
Date   : January 6, 2005 5:15:00 AM PST
To     : editor@mastersofcinema.org 
Subject: Two French film worth noting

Bonjour, happy new year to you and bravo for your splendid work.

I'm a film buff from Paris, France, and there are two new 
out-of-the-way French releases I would like to report.  First the 
bad news: they have no English subtitles.  Then the good news: two 
little known gems available in very good editions with rich bonuses.

Both films have in common French novelist Jean Giono (1895-1970), 
a writer you could compare to William Faulkner in many ways. He 
wrote Le hussar sur le toit which was turned into a very dull film 
a few years ago.

Crésus (1960) is the only film directed by Giono, from an original
screenplay by himself. It features Fernandel in the main role.

Un roi sans divertissement (1963) (A king without distraction) was
adapted by Giono himself from his 1948 novel and directed by François
Leterrier (the main actor in Robert Bresson's Un condamné à mort s'est 
échappé).

Both films were thought of as out of fashion and out of touch when 
they were released in the full swing of the Nouvelle Vague. But, 
like good wine, they have aged superbly (which is not the case, 
by the way, of every Nouvelle Vague film...).

In Crésus, a poor peasant finds a huge pile of money 
in the mountain and is very embarrassed by its trove.

In Un roi sans divertissement,  set in mid-19th century in a faraway
village, a police officer must deal with a serial killer, only to 
discover afterwards he's been seized by the same urge.

Both films were shot entirely on location, Crésus in black and 
white in the Alpes and Un roi sans divertissement in colour in the 
Cévennes, and in real snow!

Several stunning scenes could be signed Bergman or Tarkovsky: Crésus
invites his friends to a banquet on a long table on a windswept height, 
the police officer kills a goose just to gaze, spellbound, at the blood 
spilled on the snow...

These two neglected films are worth revisiting, especially in such editions.

The bonuses are rich indeed. They include a 60-minute long study on Giono
and interview with him and Fernandel in Crésus and a commentary by
director Leterrier in Un roi... plus a 45-minute return to the village where
the film was shot with the cinematographer and the actors.

I could tell you more if you're interested. CinéGénération is apparently a
small company. I don't know if they have any plan to let an English-speaking
company use their work in the future.  You'll find in French a presentation of 
these two DVDs on www.dvdrama.net

Anyway, these films look great even if you don't  grasp a single word of it!

Best regards,
Franck Poncelet               


January 30, 2005

Further to our previous news update, here are the DVD cover designs for the Gaumont/ARTE titles Mouchette, Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, Au hasard Balthazar, and the Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, Lancelot du lac, Le Diable probablement DVD Box. In our November 30, 2004 news update we mentioned an upcoming (March 16) mk2 Box Set. Thus far, the only cover art we have come across is rather awful — let's hope this is nothing more than an unofficial mockup.

The Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN, is screening Au Hasard Balthazar with seven showings. The film is part of "Nashville Premiere's Best of 2004 Festival" — further details here. Many thanks to Tony Youngblood of Mayfield, KY, for the update.


January 26, 2005

Gaumont and ARTE TV are planning to release the following DVDs on March 22. No information regarding subtitles. Thanks to David Pouchard, Ministère de la culture et de la communication, Paris, for the information.
  • Un condamné à mort s'est échappé. Bonus materials under preparation.
  • Au hasard Balthazar. Bonus materials: An introduction to the film by Philippe Azoury. Excerpts from a TV program produced by Roger Stéphane, "Pour le plaisir," aired 11/06/66, 50 minutes.
  • Mouchette. Bonus materials: A 10-minute introduction to the film, by Pierre Azoury. A TV program, "Cinéma," dedicated to the filming of Mouchette, aired on 26/01/67, 7 minutes. Robert Bresson interviewed by Belgian TV in 1966, 7.5 minutes.
  • A 3xDVD Box containing the titles Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, Lancelot du lac and Le Diable probablement. Bonus materials under preparation.

Dan Talbot's 2004 Gotham Awards Speech can be found here. Some Bresson trivia in there.


December 7, 2004

A combined Bresson/Renoir retrospective has commenced in Prague. Among the films being screened is Affaires publiques. More details here (in Czech).

Site visitor Tim Cawkwell sent us a nice note, informing us about a book he recently published: The Filmgoer's Guide To God (London: Darton Longman & Todd, GBP 10.95, ISBN 0-232-52466-1). Says the author, "I attach a contents list from which you will see that pride of place goes to Bresson, Dreyer, Rossellini and Tarkovsky, with Bresson being primus inter pares in this august group. I make reference to virtually all his films but concentrate rather on the first half of his career." The book is available through the Norwich cathedral shop.

Paul Schrader writes, "I have a letter [Robert Bresson] wrote me in 1980 you are free to copy or quote from, in it he said..."


Dear Schrader,

I do not know how to thank you for all that you have done on my behalf. 
It is unfortunately too true that I am having great difficulty financing 
this film which I will call, if I do it, L'argent. But I think really 
that I will renounce directing such as it is in the current situation. Too 
bad or so much the better! I will write, or return to painting.

I can't at the moment think of coming to the USA, but I would have liked 
to have seen you again.

With all my gratitude fondly to you,

Robert Bresson


November 30, 2004

mk2 logo French distributor mk2 have just announced that they intend to release a DVD box-set containing three Robert Bresson films on March 16, 2005. Each film will have English, German, Italian and Spanish subtitles. Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc will include a theatrical trailer, foreword by French journalist P. Azoury (20 mins), interview with Robert Bresson and Mario Beunat (5 mins), interview with Jean Guitton (5 mins), and an audio speech by André Malraux (20 mins). L'Argent will include the Cannes press conference (41 mins), and a sequence in which Truffaut speaks about Robert Bresson (2 mins). Pickpocket will include Babette Mangolte's Les Modèles de Pickpocket (52 mins), the French TV program Cinepanorama (7 mins), and Robert Bresson's speech at the prestigious French film school IDHEC (2 mins!). [Thanks to David Pouchard, Paris, for this information]

Closer inspection of Nouveaux's Au hasard Balthazar (see our previous news update) has revealed some very brief, but unsightly, digital pixelisation at 1:18:08 and at 1:23:41.

A review of Nouveaux's Mouchette DVD may be found over at DVDTimes.


November 20, 2004

DVDs of Au hasard Balthazar and Mouchette have landed on our newsdesk, courtesy of Nouveaux Pictures, U.K. The discs have been mastered from restored prints, and the video quality is simply stellar, as seen in the following frame captures [ Balthazar i | Balthazar ii | Balthazar iii | Mouchette i | Mouchette ii | Mouchette iii ]. We have passed a somehat more detailed technical review on to our colleague over at DVDBeaver.com: [ Au hasard Balthazar review | Mouchette review ]. Both come highly recommended! Incidentally, these PAL discs are not region coded, so they can be played on even "region-locked" laptop computers in addition to, of course, any PAL-capable DVD player (see e.g., our September 13 update).


September 30, 2004

The Virginia Film Festival is offering the workshop Shot by Shot: Pickpocket with Paul Schrader and Robert Kolker on Friday, October 29, at 4:00 pm (Regal 4). "The festival's shot-by-shot workshops are among the audience's favorite programs every year. Director and screenwriter Paul Schrader will be joined by the eminent film scholar, Robert Kolker (author of The Altering Eye and A Cinema of Loneliness) for a detailed examination of several key sequences of Robert Bresson's classic Pickpocket, which screens in its entirety at 10AM on Friday. A rare educational experience that's not to be missed!" [Thanks to site reader Christian Hamaker for alerting us]

Adrian Martin briefly mentions Bresson in his article on narration in the French New wave for Criterion's Focus e-journal.

The Union Theater at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will be screening several Robert Bresson films from October 20th through the 26th. The films scheduled are, Diary Of A Country Priest; A Man Escaped; the newly restored print of Au Hasard Balthazar; Lancelot Du Lac; The Devil, Probably; L'Argent; as well as Weyergans' Without A Trace (Bresson, ni vu ni connu). The complete programme can be viewed here (scroll down). [Thanks to filmmaker (and frequent site visitor) Dave Andrae for the tip!]


September 27, 2004

Colin Burnett, in his relentless search for lucidity, conducted this interview with L'Argent crew-member Jonathan Hourigan. The interview is a robert-bresson.com/Offscreen co-production.


September 20, 2004

logo Nouveaux Pictures have provided us with this DVD sleeve for their upcoming Mouchette DVD (R2/PAL). Click to enlarge. Both Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar (see previous news update) are from newly restored prints, and are presented in anamorphic widescreen. Bonus materials include a picture gallery and a text filmography. Official streetdate is now November 22. Stay tuned for our reviews of these two DVDs.

Check out this brief note on The Models of Pickpocket from the Village Voice.

Curzon Mayfair (London) are screening a Double Bill of Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar, at 12:00 on Sunday 26 September.


September 13, 2004

logo According to Moviemail, Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette are slated for an October 25 release from Nouveaux Pictures. Nouveaux provided the cover scan on the left — click to enlarge. Mouchette cover to follow shortly. For those in Region 1 still unable to play PAL/R2 discs, this may be the best excuse you'll ever get to buy a region-free player. Check out the Malata DVDP 393a ($80); this modest player does feature excellent PAL to NTSC conversion. See the DVDBeaver review and the Nerd-Out Forum for more player details.

San Paolo Multimedia, Italy, has just released Mouchette on DVD. No English subtitles. More information here. [Thanks to Manuele Lemme for the tip]

Bresson appears to be the most-selected filmmaker of presenters in Toronto International Film Festival's Dialogues: Talking with Pictures (see previous news update). Please take a moment to read these comments by Chantal Akerman.


August 29, 2004

logo Anthology Film Archives (New York) report that they will be presenting a week-long theatrical run of Babette Mangolte's The Models of Pickpocket, from September 17 (at 9 pm) to September 23, as part of a Mangolte retrospective. They will also be screening Robert Bresson's Pickpocket itself once a day from Friday, September 17 (at 7 pm) to Sunday, September 19. Full details will be available shortly at the Anthology website.

Anthology have provided us with two sets of images from Babette Mangolte's The Models of Pickpocket: The first one shows Martin LaSalle, the protagonist Michel (believe it or not). The second shows Pierre Leymarie, who plays his friend, Jacques. Photo Copyright © 2003 Babette Mangolte (All rights Reserved).

Included in the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival's Dialogues: Talking with Pictures series ("Dialogues showcases seven films that have influenced the lives of the presenters, and include extensive question-and-answer sessions following each screening"), we find "Chantal Akerman (DEMAIN ON DÉMÉNAGE) presents Robert Bresson's DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST (JOURNAL D'UN CURÉ DE CAMPAGNE) (1950). Bresson's adaptation of the Georges Bernanos novel is a masterpiece, a pure and intense account of a young priest whose faith is neither understood nor accepted by his village."

Mastersofcinema.org's own Nick Wrigley has just received a copy of the British Film Institute's Les Dames DVD and provided us with the following quick comparison between it and the earlier Criterion edition:

They're different transfers, but probably from the same print. When the first 
title comes on screen - "Paul Bernard" - the bfi version repositions itself, 
and "Paul Bernard" moves down the screen slightly. This does not happen on the 
Criterion version. Hence, definitely different transfers.  The bfi version seems 
to have everso slightly better contrast and resolution but the difference is 
marginal. The sound defect "skkkwrrrr.... skkkwwrrrr... skwrrrr" is present on 
both versions. The bfi thank Films Ariane (same as Criterion).  The bfi disc only 
offers the original film poster (a 10 second video piece that goes back to the 
menu of its own accord, and might have been better as a static gallery screen).

For completeness, let us mention that the Japanese edition includes an alternate opening sequence as bonus material (see our DVD section). Our own Doug Cummings wrote a piece for Movie Mail in connection with the BFI release — read it here (scroll down). Finally, the Les Dames audio problems mentioned by Nick have been discussed elsewhere, in this article.


July 26, 2004

Colin Burnett responds to Kevin Lee's Rafferty rebuttal (see July 22 newsbrief) with this article, entitled More Than Meets the Eye: A Response to Kevin Lee and Terrence Rafferty.


July 24, 2004

The British Film Institute's upcoming DVD of Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne: cover scan | sleeve notes.


July 22, 2004

Filmmaker Kevin Lee has submitted the following rebuttal to Terrence Rafferty's recent New York Times article (see July 6 newsbrief).

Turner Classic Movies will be screening Bresson's Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (1962) on October 15, at 2 am. See the TCM program listings.

Bostonians can look forward to a Bresson retrospective at the Brattle Theatre some time later this year (according to preliminary intelligence gathered by Trond during his visit to Boston last week.)

logo António Torres informs us of the publication of the first ever Portuguese edition of Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer:

   Notas sobre o Cinematógrafo
   Porto: Elementos Sudoeste, 2004
   ISBN: 9720450525



July 6, 2004

The New York Times, July 4th, had a piece on Bresson written by Terrence Rafferty. The article is entitled The Austerity Campaign that Never Ended, and centers around the new Lancelot du Lac and A Man Escaped DVDs from New Yorker. [Thanks to Rob Sica for notifying us of the article]

Bresson's Au hazard Balthazar will be showing in San Antonio later this month. Refer to the Texas Public Radio's Cinema section for the full details. [Thanks to Eugenio Solis for the heads-up!]

MK2 France reports: "MK2 Editions plans indeed on releasing a Bresson collection, but not until next year (the exact date has not yet been defined). Nevertheless, these DVDs will include English subtitles on the films as well as on the bonuses. Thank you for showing interest in MK2 products. Best Regards, Andrew Wilsdorf, MK2 Editions"


June 9, 2004

Some comments from film critics Glenn Kenny and Daryl Chin, received in response to our recent articles on PAL Speedup and the New Yorker DVDs A Man Escaped & Lancelot of the Lake, have been posted here. While on the topic of sloppy DVD transfers, we have noted with great worry that the running time of the upcoming (September 7) Koch/Lorber (previously Fox/Lorber) NTSC DVD release of Fellini's La Dolce Vita is listed as 167 minutes. The actual running time of the film, as seen in the theatre, is 174 minutes. The 4% discrepancy suggests that the disc set has been mastered from a PAL source, and that severe "ghosting" — as witnessed on the New Yorker Bresson DVDs — can be expected. This would clearly be unacceptable, and we hope you will let Koch/Lorber know as much. (Keep an eye on mastersofcinema.org for further updates on this particular disc set).


May 29, 2004

We take a closer look at PAL speedup of NTSC DVDs—a pet peeve of many—in the article Case Study: A Man Escaped (New Yorker DVD). It is also a matter of principle; unless voices of objection are raised concerning issues such as these, what technological compromises will DVD producers try to ram down our throats next?


May 27, 2004

MK2 of France have announced the following Bresson titles on DVD for September 2004: Quatre nuits d'un rêveur, L'Argent, Les Anges du péché, Pickpocket and Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc. Presumably Artificial Eye will pick up these titles for the U.K. market, adding English subtitles.


May 26, 2004

Offscreen editor Donato Totaro has called our attention to the current (April 2004) and previous (March 2004) issues of his on-line journal, which contain a total of ten new essays and reviews on Bresson and his work. Both issues can still be accessed from the offscreen.com front page.


May 20, 2004

Check out our review of the new Lancelot du Lac DVD from New Yorker Video, here!


May 18, 2004

Our review of New Yorker's A Man Escaped DVD is found here.


May 13, 2004

DVD titles The Devil, Probably, Lancelot du Lac, and A Man Escaped — originally slated for a May release by Artificial Eye (U.K./R2) — have suddenly disappeared from U.K. e-tailer websites. Artificial Eye informs us that, "[...] the restoration and production of bonus features is taking longer than expected and the releases have, unfortunately, been delayed until the autumn. [We] will advise you when [we] have a confirmed release date."

Watch this news page for our upcoming reviews of the New Yorker R1 DVDs of Lancelot du Lac and Man Escaped. (We have put some initial comments and screenshots up on our parent site, mastersofcinema.org; see May 13 update.)

Au Hasard Balthazar and Diary of a Country Priest will be screened May 26 & 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles at the New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd. Tickets $6.



March 10, 2004

The following note from Ian Brooker of the U.K. appears to provide some new information hitherto unavailable to Bresson scholars. If you have additional information to contribute in this matter, please do let us know. Ian's contact information is available upon request.


From    : Ian Brooker
To      : robert-bresson.com
Date    : Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:22 am
Subject : Diary of a Country Priest: Marie-Monique Arkell



Dear Trond Trondsen,

I am writing to you regarding Marie-Monique Arkell, who appeared as
the Countess in Robert Bresson's Journal d'un Curé de Campagne (1950).

I have just acquired the Criterion Collection DVD of the above film
and have listened to Peter Cowie's commentary. He states that nothing
is known about this actress and that she appeared in no other film
before or after.

Marie-Monique Arkell was my second cousin (twice removed). To my
knowledge she appeared only once under this name —  her baptismal
name. She was, however, far better known in Paris and elsewhere under
her nom de theatre — Rachel Berendt. In fact she appeared under the
latter name in at least two other films: Augustin Genina's Paris
Beguin (1931) with Jean Gabin and Fernandel; and Carlos Borcosque's
Una Vez en La Vida (1941).

She enjoyed a very successful stage career in France, England, and in
North and South America up until the outbreak of the Second World War.
A devoted follower of Sarah Bernhardt, she published a memoir of the
great actress Sarah Bernhardt en mi Recuerdo in Buenos Aires in 
1945.

It is likely that she spent the duration of the War in South America.

She came from impressive English theatrical stock: her grandfather was
the English dramatist, T.W.Robertson — the author of Caste and her
great aunt was the actress, Dame Madge Kendal. Her first cousin was
Philip MacDonald — the detective thriller writer and Hollywood
screenwriter.

She was married twice: firstly to the actor, Pierre Fresnay, and then
to the writer and director, Louis Verneuil. She died in Paris in
January 1957.

I am researching her career and would be grateful for any information
from Bresson scholars.



Yours sincerely

Ian Brooker



March 6, 2004

The Music Box theatre in Chicago will be showing A Man Escaped on March 13 and 14. Au hasard Balthazar opens March 19 [ programme ].


March 4, 2004

New Yorker report that they will be releasing Lancelot of the Lakes and A Man Escaped on DVD on May 25th. They will also be releasing L'Argent toward the end of the year. Keep an eye on their website. Thanks to Simon Lepine for relaying this information to us.

The following U.K. DVD releases are currently in the works: Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc, Pickpocket, and L'Argent from Artificial Eye, and Au Hasard, Balthazar and Mouchette from Nouveaux Films.


March 2, 2004

Italy appears to be one step ahead of the rest of the world: Sanpaolo Audiovisivi has just released two additional Bresson films on DVD: A Man Escaped andThe Devil Probably. No English subtitles. We recall that the same distributor released Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc, L'Argent and Pickpocket in November of last year. Thanks to Gregory Meshman for the update. Our DVD Section has been updated.

February 29, 2004

Brian Belovarac of Thursday Screeners, a student-run film society at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, informs us that they will be holding a free screening of New Yorker's 16mm print of L'Argent on March 4. The screening will take place at 8 pm in Gifford Auditorium in the Huntington Beard Crouse building on campus, and any interested parties in the upstate New York area are encouraged to attend. The society website/schedule is located here, and a campus map is available here.


February 27, 2004

Writer/critic Daryl Chin sent us his fascinating article, The Strange Luck of Au Hasard, Balthazar. Not to be missed!

Now test your own luck: Win a free copy of Criterion's Diary of a Country Priest DVD — here!


February 21, 2004

The Museum of Modern Art's The Hidden God: Film and Faith series is screening The Devil Probably on Monday, February 23rd, at 6:00 pm. Screeenings are at the Gramercy Theatre on 23rd Street in Manhattan. James Quandt writes about the film in MoMA's accompanying book.

Filmmaker Babette Mangolte informs us there will be a screening of her new film, The Models of Pickpocket, at the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago on April 8th, 2004.


February 9, 2004

Our review of Diary of a Country Priest (Criterion DVD, 2004) can be found here.


February 8, 2004

The following interesting footnote, submitted by Daryl Chin, serves to shed some light on Robert Bresson's casting methods. As is well-known, he did not particularly enjoy the process of casting, and preferred to stick with people within his own social circles. It is interesting to note that not one, but two marriages resulted from the making of Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar and Bertolucci's Masculin Feminin...!

From    : Daryl Chin
To      : T. Trondsen/robert-bresson.com
Date    : Sun, 08 Feb 2004 12:05:38 -0500
Subject : Bertolucci info on Bresson casting

[...]

At the Pinewood dialogue session sponsored by the American
Museum of the Moving Image (following a special screening of
THE DREAMERS), Bernardo Bertolucci explained why he cast
Eva Green and Louis Garrel as the leads of his movie (this
is their first "major" appearances in a film).  As the name
suggests, Louis Garrel is the third generation of Garrels
(after his grandfather, the actor Maurice, and his father,
the director Philippe); Bertolucci explained that, in 1968,
with LA CONCENTRATION and LE REVELAT EUR, Philippe Garrel
(at the age of 18) would be the "enfant terrible" of
European cinema (a status that Bertolucci enjoyed after THE
GRIM REAPER and BEFORE THE REVOLUTION, which he made before
he was 23).  Bertolucci admitted that he was always jealous
of Philippe Garrel's youth, and, now, in his movie about
1968, he was able to cast the son.

But it is Eva Green who is relevant to this discussion.

AU HASARD BALTHAZAR and Godard's MASCULIN FEMININ have more
affinities than many of us realize.  In Sight & Sound in
1966, Richard Roud wrote an article in which he discussed
both movies, which were both produced under a deal with
Svensk Filmindustri.  (Other films done as French-Swedish
co-productions during that time were Agnes Varda's LES
CREATURES and Alain Resnais's LA GUERRE EST FINIE.) In
MASCULIN FEMININ, "the children of Marx and Coca-Cola" were
played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, Chantal Goya, Catherine-Isabelle
Dupont, Michel Debord, and Marlene Jobert (her
screen debut).  Marlene Jobert, of course, would go on to a
notable screen acting career; she would also marry a
Swedish dentist, with whom she would have twin daughters,
Joy and Eva Green.  The dentist she married was named
Walter Green.  Yes, he played Jacques, the rich young man
whom Marie jilts in favor of Gerard, in AU HASARD BALTHAZAR.
(His only acting credit.) All these years, I had never been
able to identify the Swedish cast members in AU HASARD
BALTHAZAR (part of the deal was that the films had to have
Swedish participation, thus in MASCULIN FEMININ there is the
film-within-a-film with Eva Britt Strandberg and Birger
Malmsten, in LES CREATURES there was Eva Dahlbeck, in LA
GUERRE EST FINIE there is Ingrid Thulin).  All the
information on BALTHAZAR did not mention the cast, and did
not give detailed information (you had to know that Pierre
Klossowsky was a notable writer, because no press
information provided by the original publicity materials
had this information).  When AU HASARD BALTHAZAR was
released in France, the film critic Claude Mauriac released
the information that Anne Wiazemsky was his niece (and,
therefore, the granddaughter of Francois Mauriac).  But who
was Swedish in the cast of AU HASARD BALTHAZAR has always
been a mystery.

Until now.  Not only did Bertolucci identify Walter Green as
the Swedish cast member of AU HASARD BALTHAZAR, he explained
that Walter Green had been cast in BALTHAZAR because
Bresson had needed a Swedish cast member, and he had already
cast a Swedish person in a major role in a previous film.
Yes, Marika Green, the heroine Jeanne in PICKPOCKET, had
been a student in Paris, but she was Swedish, so when
Bresson needed another Swedish cast member, he contacted the
Green family, and Marika's younger brother Walter came so
that Bresson could fulfill his contractual obligation to
Svensk Filmindustri.

This makes the second marriage that resulted from the
proximity of AU HASARD BALTHAZAR and MASCULIN FEMININ (the
first being, of course, the marriage of Jean-Luc Godard and
Anne Wiazemsky).  And the result of Marlene Jobert's
marriage to Walter Green was twin daughters, Joy and Eva,
and Eva Green is now the star of Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS,
playing one of the generation of 1968, "the children of Marx
and Coca-Cola".

                       .......
    
I spoke to Annette Michelson, giving her this information
about the connection between Marika Green and Walter Green,
and she informed me that, when she had the occasion to    
observe Bresson at work (in the summer of 1971, while he was
filming FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER), the girl cast was
Isabelle Weingarten, whose parents published a notable      
literary journal in Paris (similar to the Epsteins and The 
New York Review of Books) and Isabelle herself had been a  
published poet by the time she was 19 (and she has continued
with a literary career).
 
Then there is the casting of Guinevere in LANCELOT DU LAC:
when Bresson first tried to set up the project in the 
mid-1950s, he had hoped to cast a young artist, Niki De
Saint Phalle.  When he eventually made the movie twenty
years later, he simply cast Niki De Saint Phalle's daughter 
Laura as Guinevere.

Footnote: The Pinewood Dialogue with Bernardo Bertolucci took place on Monday, February 2, 2004. Link to Eva Green press-still added by robert-bresson.com.


January 18, 2004

Robert-bresson.com close friend and collaborator Jonathan Hourigan has written this interesting article for MovieMail, encapsulating Bresson's Modernism as well as Bresson's own specific background. Note the plug at the bottom of the article; the cat is out of the bag — our readers have a real treat in store... stay tuned.


January 8, 2004

Criterion informs us that their upcoming DVD of Diary of a Country Priest will not include the previously announced 11 minutes of deleted scenes and rushes from the NCC. Bresson had requested that these never be made public, and Criterion intends to respect the Director's wishes.


December 19, 2003

The Harvard Film Archive is pulling out all the stops the next two months with a retrospective of some of critic Serge Daney's favorite films. These include works by Allen, Bergman, Bresson, Carné, Clément, Eastwood, Eustache, Fellini, Ford, Franju, Hawks, Hitchcock, Kramer/Douglas, Laughton, Losey, Ophüls, Resnais, Scorsese, Tati, Wajda, and a documentary and symposium on Daney himself. Bresson screenings are, Pickpocket (January 10 at 21:15, January 12 at 21:00) and Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (January 12 at 19:00). Thanks to Matthew Packwood for the heads-up.

Rialto Pictures have informed us of the following screening schedule for Au hasard Balthazar.

Jan 31 NEW YORK, NY MoMA Film at the Gramercy Theatre
http://www.moma.org/visit_moma/momafilm/jan_29_04.html
--
Feb 13-19 SILVER SPRING, MD AFI Silver
http://silver.afi.com/afi_web/home.asp
--
Feb 20-23 DETROIT, MI Detroit Film Theatre
http://www.dia.org/information/info1.html
--
Mar 19-25 SEATTLE, WA Varsity
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Seattle/Seattle_Frameset.htm
--
Apr 9-15 CAMBRIDGE, MA Kendall Square
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Boston/Boston_Frameset.htm


November 26, 2003

logo We recently had the chance to chat with Kate Elmore, the producer of the upcoming Criterion Collection DVD of Diary of a Country Priest. This release was first mentioned by Peter Becker during a Home Theater Forum chat on October 23, 2001, so the two-year wait has been a long and hopeful one.

The print used for the DVD comes direct from Studio Canal in France and, per Criterion's usual methods, will include newly-translated English subtitles.

Supplements will include, amazingly, 11-minutes of deleted scenes from the National Center of Cinematography in France. It's commonly known that Bresson shortened his initial cut due to time constraints, mostly subplots involving the priest's interactions with his parishioners, so this footage has never been widely seen.

The disc will feature a commentary by noted film scholar Peter Cowie, who focuses on the relationship between the film and Georges Bernanos' source novel.

The liner notes were written by Frédéric Bonnaud and translated by Kent Jones and Gavin Smith. (It's likely this piece was first published in the May/June, 1999 issue of Film Comment devoted to Bresson.)

Ms. Elmore also commented on the release's cover art (pictured above; click to enlarge), saying it was an image in their heads from the beginning and that they were trying to stay away from any "star-like" images of Claude Laydu in keeping with Bresson's approach to nonprofessional actors. The cover art is a more symbolic design featured in black-and-white sepia tone.

Although Criterion is hesitant to confirm plans for any specific Bresson releases in the future, Kate Elmore affirmed that "We're all about Bresson, here."

The Criterion Collection Diary of a Country Priest will be released in early February, 2004.  -DC


November 24, 2003

As part of the retrospective The Fantastic Cinema of Jean Cocteau the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will be screening Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne on November 28 at 4:00pm and November 30 at 4:15pm. Thanks to Matthew Packwood for the heads-up.


November 13, 2003

Sanpaolo Audiovisivi has just released three of Robert Bresson's films on DVD, through Fox Italy: Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc, L'Argent and Pickpocket. Subtitles are French and Italian. Thanks to Paolo Pardo and Gregory Meshman for the update.


November 9, 2003

We asked Richard Hell a while back to send us a brief update from his next Bresson screening/introduction event. Read his report, which he refers to as a "kind of chatty, highly adjectival, account of the evening," here.


November 7, 2003

Update from New Yorker, U.S.A.: "We will be releasing the DVD of L'ARGENT and A MAN ESCAPED, though it will not happen in December. We are [still] working to get good digital material from which to make the DVD's." (This is a follow-up to our July 16 and May 24 newsbriefs).


November 6, 2003

Update from Britain: In 2004, Nouveaux Pictures will release Au Hasard, Balthazar and Mouchette on DVD, while Artificial Eye will put out L'Argent, The Devil Probably, Lancelot du Lac as well as A Man Escaped (Pickpocket not yet confirmed). Keep an eye on our mastersofcinema.org DVD release calendar for exact dates, as they become available.


November 3, 2003

Update from France: Arte confirms in their latest DVD catalogue that Mouchette and Au hasard Balthazar are scheduled for a 2004 release. MK2 will be releasing Pickpocket, L'Argent, and Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc in 2004. Thanks for the update, Arnaud!


October 24, 2003

Criterion's new DVD catalog, now shipping with their Tokyo Story disc set, seems to suggest a January/February 2004 release for Diary of a Country Priest. The cover should show up here some time in November.


October 21, 2003

New York-based writer Richard Hell offers a unique and highly personal perspective on The Devil, Probably in this article. Recommended reading.


October 15, 2003

See J. Hoberman's rather succinct review of Au Hasard Balthazar, here (The Village Voice).

The following interesting information from James Quandt recently appeared in an otherwise somewhat misguided discussion thread on the Criterion Collection Forum:


From James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario:

As the organizer of the Bresson retrospective that travelled in North 
America in the late nineties, I had to find the elements, negotiate 
the rights, and get prints made of many of his  films. It was very 
difficult to find adequate elements for LES ANGES DU  PÉCHÉ, but the 
final 35mm print looked reasonably good. The rights for the  film 
actually reside with a major French book company, with whom I worked 
on the  project. As for FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER, this has 
been unavailable for  many years because of rights problems, but we 
managed to get all the necessary  permissions to get a new print made 
(from the original elements) and newly  subtitled. A nice coincidence 
was that the cinematographer happened to be  working on another 
film in the same lab, happened to notice FOUR NIGHTS on its 
worksheets, and asked to oversee the striking and colour timing of 
the print, which perhaps explained why it looked so great. (There are 
minor, irreparable flaws in the elements.) Those who saw FOUR 
NIGHTS in the retrospective may be the last in North America to ever 
have a chance to see it  on screen.

[...]



September 24, 2003

Check out Rialto's new Balthazar page.


September 19, 2003

Les Modéles de Pickpocket screens on Saturday, Sept. 20, 3pm, at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin TX , U.S.A. The director will attend. See this writeup in The Austin Chronicle.


September 14, 2003

Further to our May 8, June 16, and September 7 newsbriefs on the history of the North American distribution of Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette, we just received the following letter from New York based writer and art critic Daryl Chin. It is reproduced here with his permission.

From    : Daryl Chin
To      : robert-bresson.com
Date    : Sun Sep 14, 2003  11:22:55 Canada/Mountain
Subject : Re: theatrical run of AU HASARD BALTHAZAR

In 1969, a new company called Cinema Ventures, run by two young men who had
just graduated from Yale, Thomas Russell III and Martin Rubin, announced
their first two acquisitions: the North American rights to AU HASARD,
BALTHAZAR and MOUCHETTE. However, the actual finances involved in a
theatrical run for the films in New York City proved to be daunting. They
were unable to release the films, and the rights were soon bought out by Dan
Talbot of New Yorker Films (this happened around 1972). He immediately
listed the films in his catalogues, and the films had numerous screenings at
the various repertory houses in New York City, including Talbot's own New
Yorker Theater, the Carnegie Hall and Bleecker Street Cinemas, the Cinema
Village, the Elgin, and the Thalia. But none of these screenings was for
more than a day, and so officially, AU HASARD BALTHAZAR and MOUCHETTE never
had theatrical releases in New York City. AU HASARD BALTHAZAR's theatrical
run at Film Forum will be the first official theatrical run for that film
EVER in New York City. (Cinema Ventures soon folded; they had also intended
to have a magazine, which was called ON FILM, and they did come out with one
very impressive issue. Among the contributors were Robin Wood, Peter
Bogdanovich - his extensive interview with Otto Preminger - and Stuart
Byron.)

[Incidentally,] I was the person who helped curate the first Bresson 
retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in February of 1970; I helped Thomas 
and Marty when they were trying to release the films, and I remember the two 
press screenings which we set up, and the press book we prepared. But they were 
never able to book the films in a theater where they would not have to incur 
all the expenses. And they didn't have the money to make 16-mm prints of the 
films, which would have helped in the noncommercial/educational markets, 
i.e., film societies, university film showings, etc. Ever since that time, 
I have kept track of all screenings of Bresson's movies in New York City, 
and there was never a full theatrical release for either AU HASARD BALTHAZAR 
or MOUCHETTE, though the films were much written about, especially by Andrew 
Sarris, Molly Haskell, and J. Hoberman.  [...] THE DEVIL, PROBABLY is the 
other Bresson film which never had an actual theatrical release in the 
United States.

[...]

One piece of information which nobody seems to be interested in is the
connection between Bresson's most prolific period (1965-1971, when he made
four films in a row) and THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. In 1965, after its
worldwide release, and the success of the soundtrack album worldwide, the
company which had produced UMBRELLAS, Parc Films, i.e., Mag Bodard,
contacted Bresson with the proposal to make a film. Bresson immediately
proposed LANCELOT DU LAC, but that would prove to be too expensive, though
it's important because the methodology of the script for LANCELOT (by that
point, he had condensed the script into very discrete fragmented scenes)
would prove to be the method of BALTHAZAR. (It's very different from the
scripts for DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST and A MAN ESCAPED and THE TRIAL OF
JOAN OF ARC, which have longer sequences.) It took him about a year to come
up with the script for BALTHAZAR, which was inspired by an anecdote found in
sostoevsky's THE IDIOT. (In talking about BALTHAZAR the other day with the
critic George Robinson, he [George] came up with the wonderful joke that 
Bresson had proposed a movie with a lot of armor and horses, and budgetary
considerations meant that he wound up making a movie with a motorbike and a
jackass.)

I've tried to find someone interested in publishing a short article I've
written about the circumstances of the filming of BALTHAZAR, but no one is
interested. Instead, too much is written "mystifying" Bresson. Quite
frankly: he made movies, and these were not "non-commercial" movies, but
movies made under the commercial filmmaking system of France. The fact is:
AU HASARD BALTHAZAR turned out quite well, and was brought in strictly on
budget, and because it was so modestly budgeted, the release of the film in
Europe was enough to make a profit, and that prompted Mag Bodard to produce
MOUCHETTE, and the success of MOUCHETTE allowed for the production (also by
Mag Bodard) of UNE FEMME DOUCE.

For FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER, he was working with another company, and that
film was a French-Italian co-production, and there have been problems about
the clarity of the rights, as has happened to a number of European
co-productions at the time.

Daryl Chin


September 7, 2003

It's official: The Film Forum in New York will be screening Au hasard Balthazar, as restored by Rialto, during the period October 17–30, 2003 [ web site ].


August 20, 2003

Our readers may find this recent article by Richard Hell (Village Voice) to be of some interest.


August 4, 2003

Rialto Pictures reports that their newly restored Au Hasard Balthazar will be opening on October 17 at New York's Film Forum. Other cities and opening dates are to be determined. Keep an eye on Rialto's website for updates. Mouchette will most likely be a spring 2004 release, but no exact date is set at the present time. Robert-bresson.com fully expects corresponding Criterion DVDs to emerge some time after these theatrical releases.


July 27, 2003

logo Anthology Film Archives (New York) reports: "Anthology will present nine Bresson feature films and one documentary August 22 through September 4. All features will be presented in excellent 35mm prints with English subtitles, with the exception of Une femme douce (16mm, no subtitles). This series comes to us with the invaluable assistance of the Cultural Service of the French Embassy, NY; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris; New Yorker Films; and James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario."

See also this page by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Unless you have already done so, please bookmark our top-level page: mastersofcinema.org (MoC). The DVD Release Calendar on that page (still somewhat under construction) will be constantly updated to reflect the release status of upcoming Bresson DVDs. More in-depth information will be found here on the robert-bresson.com News page.


July 16, 2003

The MK2 Bresson DVDs previously scheduled for September (see our April 8 news item) have been indefinitely postponed until 2004. Presumably, this will cause the corresponding Artificial Eye releases to be delayed as well. Also, New Yorker appears to be pushing their Bresson release date back, to December 23, 2003. We plan to create a dedicated DVD Release Calendar section to help you better keep track of the overall DVD situation as it evolves.


July 10, 2003

Artificial Eye (U.K.) informs us that they will be releasing A Man Escaped, Lancelot du Lac, The Devil Probably, and L'Argent on DVD in the near future. They are aiming to release Pickpocket as well, but this title is not yet confirmed.


July 2, 2003

dvd cover The Korean DVD distributor Spectrum has released a Bresson DVD box set. The titles included in this "Volume I" are, A Man Escaped, Lancelot du Lac, and The Devil Probably. There are no English subtitles.

The screenplay for Le Proces de Jeanne d'Arc has recently been published by Mercure, France. It contains an introduction by Bresson and a piece by Florence Delay. It is available from amazon.fr for approximately 25 Euros.


June 18, 2003

logo Anthology Film Archives (New York) [ website ] reports that the details of the upcoming Bresson restrospective are all but finalized. Arranging a "complete" Bresson retrospective has turned out to be somewhat difficult. Four Nights of a Dreamer appears to have sunk back into the "rights-holders obscurity" from whence it came; Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar were removed from the programme at the last minute so as to not interfere with the upcoming Rialto releases (which promise to be spectacular, see our January 7 newsbrief). Dates are not yet finalized, but the films to be shown are:
  • Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne
  • Diary of a Country Priest
  • A Man Escaped
  • Pickpocket
  • Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc
  • Une Femme Douce
  • Launcelot du Lac
  • The Devil, Probably
  • L'Argent
According to the Anthology Publicity Director, the majority of these are fine-grade or "like new" subtitled prints direct from the Ministère de la culture. Stay tuned for updates.

Jon Mulvaney of Criterion reports that their Diary of a Country Priest DVD should be released some time in 2004.


June 16, 2003

We recently received a letter from Richard Peterson, Director of Programming with the Smith Rafael Film Center:
"I thought I would just forward a slight correction on your news of May 8th.
I believe that Au hasard Balthazar was originally released in the United
States by New Line Cinema in the early days of that company.  Same goes for
Mouchette.  I think that New Line handled them both theatrically and
non-theatrically. [...]"

Thanks for the correction/clarification, Richard!


May 24, 2003

Further to our April 30 news item, the scheduled streetdate for New Yorker's DVD releases of A Man Escaped and L'Argent is December 9th, 2003.


May 17, 2003

On July 25, at 7:30 pm, writer/director Paul Schrader will be presenting Pickpocket at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. LA, CA 90048.

The Anthology Film Archives in New York City is mounting a Bresson retrospective in August with subtitled(!) new 35 mm prints of a number of his films, "direct from France." The details of the program are not yet set. Anthology has promised to keep us posted.


May 8, 2003

Rialto Pictures reports that there is "a good chance" that they will be theatrically releasing Au Hasard Balthazar this fall — they have promised to keep us posted. This will be the first time the film has ever been distributed theatrically in North America (apart from retrospectives/festivals).


April 30, 2003

New Yorker Video confirms that they plan to release A Man Escaped and L'Argent on DVD later this year. (Note also that they have earlier made reference to Lancelot du Lac, see our November 21, 2002 newsbrief).


April 9, 2003

It was just called to our attention that a Bresson Retrospective is currently underway at the Austrian Film Museum. The schedule is found here. We note that a class on Mouchette was held on April 2, and that no less than seven documentaries are being screened. These include Babette Mangolte's new documentary on the models of Pickpocket. Other featured documentaries are Interprètes de Bresson, The Road to Bresson (also featuring Andrei Tarkovsky), Inthronisation und Sturz, Zum Beispiel Bresson, L´Argent von Bresson and Ni vu ni connu.


April 8, 2003

Mk2, France, informs us that they are planning a DVD release of Le Procès de Jeanne d'Arc. This is in addition to their previously announced titles, Pickpocket and L'Argent. The street date for all three titles is September 1, 2003. We will bring you more details as they become available.

Our readers in Canada should note that Criterion's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne DVD is not sold there, as Criterion does not hold the distribution rights for this title in Canada. Attempts to order the title via amazon.ca will thus fail, in spite of what the website may tell you.


April 2, 2003

The mk2 web site has an English page for their L'Argent catalogue listing, here. Note that this does not refer to DVDs per se, but rather to 35 mm prints carried by mk2 for theatrical distribution. We note that there is no mention of Pickpocket in their catalogue... As for future DVD releases from mk2, we will monitor the situation closely and keep you posted. Also refer to our March 18 newsbrief.

A recent interview with Paul Schrader about Bresson's Pickpocket may be found in The Telegraph, January 25. Read the article here.

Note an interesting addition to our slowly expanding site; translated into English exclusively for robert-bresson.com: a selection of Bresson quotes taken from the French press.


Kimitoshi Sato of Japan sent us the following gem: A book created for the Robert Bresson Retrospective which took place during the 1999 Tokyo Film Festival. The book is called Le Cinématographe de Robert Bresson, it is 18.3 cm X 25.7 cm, 152 pages, all texts both in French and Japanese. No information on publisher; the book was sold at the theatre strictly at the time of the Retrospective. [ Cover Scan | Index (French) | Preface (French) ]. To be added to our Books' Section shortly.


March 28, 2003

Joseph Cunneen's new book, Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film (ISBN 0826414710) is slated for an April 15 release. You may now order/preorder it through your favorite online bookseller. The book has 224 pages and 24 b/w photographs [ cover scan ]. Mr. Cunneen [ bio ] has kindly granted to robert-bresson.com an interview, which we will bring you shortly. We will provide you with a book review as well.

James Quandt submitted the following information—a follow-up to some of our earlier news items...:

From    : James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario
To      : Newsdesk, robert-bresson.com
Date    : Fri, 28 Mar 2003 10:03:33 -0500
Subject : Various

In response to various comments posted to your newsdesk:

It is highly unlikely that Affaires Publiques (there is no article
Les as part of the title as it appears on the print, by the way) will be
included on any DVD for some time to come. The film was long thought lost,
something that Bresson did not regret; his response to its discovery by 
the Cinémathèque française was not exactly joyous. His widow, Mylene 
Bresson, does not wish the film to have wide circulation as she feels it 
is unrepresentative of his work, and largely misunderstood (outside of the 
context of its time and the situation of its making).

I have not seen the Criterion DVD of Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, but 
when I organized the Bresson retrospective that toured North America, I 
discovered that the elements for this film and for his other early work, 
Les Anges du péché, were not in ideal condition. The print of Les
Dames was quite lovely but had a number of flaws from the elements 
including speckling and some scratches. By the way, there is a growing
body of critical opinion that sees these two films as entirely continuous 
in style and theme with Bresson's later work, rather than, as traditional 
opinion has it, films in the tradition of French cinema of their era.

The Kino print of Diary of a Country Priest that is discussed is the 
one I had made for the Bresson retrospective, derived from elements 
recently restored by the CNC in Paris. The lustrous black-and-white is 
superior to any other prints I have seen over the years. However, there 
were some forceful objections to its quality from certain Bressonians who 
argue that a more homogenous gris (grey) quality is what Bresson intended 
during this period, and that the "punchy" quality of the contrast in this 
print and that of Pickpocket betrays this intention.

Regards, James Quandt
Cinematheque Ontario

We asked Kate Elmore, producer of Criterion's Les Dames DVD to give us her opinion on the quality of the DVD and of the underlying film elements. This is further to our March 6 newsbrief.

To      : Trond Trondsen, robert-bresson.com
From    : Kate Elmore, Criterion
Date    : Wed, 19 Mar 2003 17:48:55 -0500
Subject : Les dames...

We too are disappointed with the condition of the film elements for
Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne. I can assure you that our digital
transfer was done to the same exacting standards as any of our others, but
that the existing film elements are in unfortunate shape. What you see on
our disc is a an accurate, reproduction of the image as it survives in
duplicate elements.  No amount of digital restoration could solve the
problems inherent in the material, and, as is our policy in such cases, we
refuse to overprocess the image and sound, removing what remains of the
character of the original film (grain, texture, depth), simply for the sake
of making a "cleaner" picture. Using a fairly light hand, we removed the
worst of the dirt, especially around the opticals and reel changes, but
there is very little we can do about the softness inherent in the surviving
dupes or the shifting (film weave) that commonly results from warping of the
reels. As for the sound, we did manage to improve it somewhat, but again,
the original sound elements have not been well preserved.

We certainly hope that other film elements, in finer condition, may be found
in the future, so that a full film restoration can be undertaken and the
picture saved. If nothing else, the flaws inherent in the elements should
remind us all of the perishable nature of the medium and of the importance
of restoration and preservation efforts. Digital recording is not enough.
The celluloid itself needs to be cared for and protected, and in this case,
it has not been kindly treated. If something better turns up, as happens
from time to time, we will certainly be proud to make it available.  But for
now, we feel confident that we have made Les Dames look as good as it can,
given the state of the film.

Best wishes,

Kate

We will bring you our own review of this Criterion DVD shortly—stay tuned.


March 18, 2003

Good news from France: mk2 has announced a May DVD release of L'Argent and Pickpocket. Whether these will have English subtitles or not is anybody's guess. We do, however, know that Artificial Eye (U.K.) has a good relationship with mk2, having produced English versions of their Truffaut and Kieslowski discs in the past. Does this mean we'll see Artificial Eye Bresson DVDs announced before the end of the year? Developing...


March 12, 2003

Home Vision has officially announced Flaherty's Man of Aran and Louisiana Story as upcoming DVD releases. The DVDs, slated for a May release, will contain several extras. We note that in 1952 Bresson cited both of these titles in his personal list of the top seven movies of all time:
  1. The Gold Rush (Chaplin)
  2. City Lights (Chaplin)
  3. Potemkin (Eisentein)
  4. Brief Encounter (Lean)
  5. The Bicycle Thief (De Sica)
  6. Man of Aran (Flaherty)
  7. Louisiana Story (Flaherty)
The list is taken from "Reel Facts — The Movie Book of Records" (Vintage Books, 1978). It is based on the response given by the director while participating in the Cinematheque Belgique Survey of 1952.


March 6, 2003

Criterion's DVD of Robert Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, the first-ever English subtitled Bresson DVD, turns out to be a somewhat disappointing and sloppy release. It is not up to Criterion's usual standards. A very preliminary technical assessment is found here (dvdbeaver.com). The screen captures are far from impressive. A discussion is developing here. A less than flattering review is found here.

We are somewhat surprised that Criterion didn't grab the opportunity to include Bresson's 25 minute Les Affaires Publiques on this particular disk — it would have been a logical companion feature.

Bill Forsyth did a Masterclass TV programme (UK) on Au Hasard Balthazar circa 1990. Let us hope this fascinating TV programme is included on the upcoming Criterion release of Au Hasard Balthazar (2004?).


January 23, 2003

A Man Escaped will be screened Tuesday, February 25, in the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, 900 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, Telephone (585) 271-3361. Admission is $6, $5 for students, and $4 for members. This is part of their Breaking in and Bustin' Out: Caper and Jailbreak Classics series.

Raymund Schwager (Institute for Systematic Theology, University of Innsbruck, Austria) is giving a talk on Mechanism and Freedom: On Robert Bresson's movie Au Hasard Balthazar at the University of Innsbruck's 2003 Colloquium on Violence and Religion, June 18-23 [ programme ].


January 12, 2003

The following is our report from yesterday's screening of Diary of a Country Priest in West Hollywood.

Doug Cummings reporting:

The screening yesterday at the Sunset went very well. Kino's film was a bit scratched, but had quite good contrast and detail — it was clearly a recent print. It was far better than Kino's VHS (rereleased in 2001) may suggest, not only in its visual detail but also in its subtitling — the film had a new English translation which was more accurate and nuanced. Kino told me in 2001 their VHS was ported from their Interama video master (seen on the laserdisc, I believe) and the clarity of the winter trees and the muddy roads on film was a revelation. This screening was presented in conjunction with Kino's 25th Anniversary Series, which has appeared at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Cornell University, and various other venues to date.

In other news, Rialto Pictures tells us that they are presently discussing the theatrical release dates for their restored Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette (see our January 7 news item), but that "hopefully at least one will come out either this spring or fall."


January 10, 2003

This and next weekend, Laemmle Theatres in West Hollywood will be screening Diary of a Country Priest. Screenings will be held on January 11 and 12 at Sunset as well as on January 18 to 19 at the Monica. See also this recent mention in the LA Weekly.

We will bring you a review of this weekend's screening. Stay tuned.


January 7, 2003

Rialto Pictures (www.rialtopictures.com) has added Au Hasard Balthazar and Mouchette to their list of restoration projects. (It is noteworthy that Rialto's restored works have traditionally ended up on Criterion DVDs... There is hope!)


January 3, 2003

Amazon France (amazon.fr) lists Diary of a Country Priest as being slated for a February 6 release on DVD in PAL Region 2. We tried to place an order, but a message comes back stating that the title has been "cancelled." The amazon.fr listing remains, however (as it has remained for several months now). Let us take a closer look at the DVD's cover [ cover scan ]. The cover proudly announces that the film is "un film de Rene Clement." If this is indicative of the kind of respect Bresson's titles will be given in the coming months and years, then we have reason to be seriously worried indeed.


December 21, 2002

Robert Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne has been officially announced for March. This constitutes the first-ever English subtitled Bresson DVD.


November 21, 2002

This news item appeared on Nostalghia.com today:

We have for several years been longing to see the works of Robert Bresson released on DVD. Many of our readers are well aware of the fact that Tarkovsky and Bresson were personal friends, and that Bresson was one of the co-founders of the Institut International Andreï Tarkovski. We recently approached New Yorker Films (the main rights' holder in North America) asking them about their plans in regards to releasing Bresson on DVD. We received an understanding response from their President, Mr. Dan Talbot:

[...]   Bresson is a world master and he should be more available through 
DVD.  We are relatively new in the field of DVD.   So far we have put out 
30 DVDs, and in 2003 we hope to put out roughly 20 new DVDs.   Among them 
we hope to put out two Bresson titles - A MAN ESCAPED and LANCELOT OF THE
LAKE -  probably toward the end of 2003.  Economics aside, the  issue  is 
getting quality  material from which to make masters for the DVD releases. 
We've started this process. [...]

New Yorker has promised to keep us posted on the progress, so stay tuned! We also recall in passing that Criterion has already mentioned in a public forum a possible 2003 release of Diary of a Country Priest and/or Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne. In other recent correspondence with New Yorker Films, we have been informed that, in a new development, they no longer distribute the Ozu titles. We are currently working hard trying to find out exactly who is the new rights' holder. Finally, New Yorker Films tells us that they have L'Atalante, Shoah, The Boys of St. Vincent, and a re-release of The Decalogue scheduled for 2003.

©2002-2005 www.robert-bresson.com
All Rights Reserved


back navigation
[ Top ] [ Dreyer News ] [ Ozu News ] [ Tarkovsky News ] [ Masters of Cinema ] [ Home ] [ Contact ] [ Links ] [ Book ] [ Media ] [ Posters ] [ Words ] [ News ]