Robert Bresson Retrospective

The Pacific Cinémathèque is kicking off a Bresson retrospective. Though my work schedule gets in the way, I will try to see all 13 films — 5 of which I have previously seen. Those showings which I cannot possibly make, I’ll try to find an alternative means of viewing, despite the gross difficulty in finding adequate quality downloads with correct subtitles of Bresson’s films.

Though Bresson, one of my favourite auteurs, is certainly a master of formalism, his greatness is not merely technical. His ascetic nature of leaving only the necessary elements makes him incredibly efficient, but also remarkably spiritual. In a few brief shots, he can tell the audience more than what an amateur director requires in lengthy scenes. This precision reduces the potential of miscommunication; in terms of plot, the stories are so expertly narrated that, provided one is paying attention, one knows exactly what’s going on. On the other hand, the ascetic nature, use of metaphor, and treatment of characters transcend the reality the plot envelopes.

Simplicity led spirituality: this is the nature of Robert Bresson, and though his films vary in terms of content, Bresson’s style is unmistakable.


About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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