“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
Bresson’s style of accentuating minimalist details — closing up and slowing down on body parts or material items — repletes his films with a transcendental slowing down of one’s perception of time. This sensibility bestows his films with a “certain lightness” (Andrei Tarkovsky), a certain gracefulness, and a sense of humility. Bresson’s films, particularly the masterpieces — Diary of A Country Priest, Au Hasard Balthazar, A Man Escaped, Mouchette, Pickpocket, Four Nights of A Dreamer, and Le Diable Probablement (in my opinion) — share a spiritual conscience of surrendering oneself; the films at once surrender themselves as well as their creator, Robert Bresson, to the concept of art: a means of connecting, through grace, to something beyond form, and, therefore, beyond aesthetics — a means of connecting to the spirit. In this way, he may be regarded as both a materialist and a spiritualist — the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Bresson embodies the spirit in material, and, with grace, captures the spirit — what is beyond the simple form of the material — and illustrates it for the world to see. He is a true auteur and a true artist.
While Four Nights of A Dreamer is the most personally affective of his films, for me, I can’t put it above the other 5 for that reason alone. It is certainly worth mentioning, though. While the top 4 is definite, and, I think, easily Bresson’s greatest, they are rather interchangeable. You could take my top 4 and flip them in reverse and I wouldn’t really mind. Pickpocket is damn close to that level, too. L’argent has the potential to go up, as it is the only film I did not view during this two month period; I saw it a half a year ago, reviewed it, and didn’t feel the need to see it again just yet. It will be seen next, hopefully in the next few days if I can get a decent copy of it.
01. Diary Of A Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de campagne, 1951)
02. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
03. A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s’est échappé, 1956)
04. Mouchette (1967)
05. Pickpocket (1959)
06. Four Nights Of A Dreamer (Quatre nuits d’un rêveur, 1971)
07. The Devil Probably (Le Diable Probablement, 1977)
08. Une Femme Douce (A Gentle Woman, 1969)
09. L’argent (1983)
10. Lancelot du Lac (1974)
11. The Trial of Joan of Arc (Procès de Jeanne d’Arc, 1962)
12. Les anges du péché (Angels of the Street, 1943)
13. Les Dames du Bois de Bologne (1945)