Bresson and Others: Spiritual Style in the Cinema by Bert Cardullo

By Bert Cardullo

A couple of writers have tried to seize Robert Bresson’s type in addition to his substance with such phrases as “minimalist,” “austere,” "ascetic," “elliptical,” “autonomous,” “pure,” even “gentle." so much famously, Paul Schrader as soon as referred to as Bresson’s motion pictures “transcendental,” whereas Susan Sontag defined them as “spiritual.” either those critics hence prolonged in anglicized shape a bent that had early been dominant in Bresson feedback in France: the test, made via such Catholic writers as André Bazin, Henri Agel, Roger Leenhardt, and Amédée Ayfre, to appreciate Bresson's paintings in spiritual phrases, seeing his digicam as one of those god and the fabric global as (paradoxically) a specific thing of the spirit. That try, in Sontag’s essay, resulted in the creation of Bresson to the recent York-based avant-garde of the Sixties and Seventies, whose films—such as Richard Serra’s Hand Catching Lead (1968), for one—show the impact of the French director’s serious, reductivist type. Jean-Luc Godard, after all, wanted no such serious advent to Robert Bresson, for, in his iconoclasm and integrity, in his rejection of the Gallic “Cinéma du Papa” in addition to in his embody of movie as an self sufficient artwork, Bresson was once one of many heroes of the younger administrators who constituted the French New Wave within the early Sixties. rather a lot in order that Godard used to be moved to assert in Cahiers du cinéma in 1957 that “Bresson is French cinema, as Dostoyevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music."

The result's that Bresson has undeniably prompted a slew of up to date eu filmmakers, together with Chantal Akerman, Olivier Assayas, Laurent Cantet, Alain Cavalier, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Claire Denis, Jacques Doillon, Bruno Dumont, Michael Haneke, Benoît Jacquot, and Maurice Pialat--not to talk of his impact on Asian and American cinema. Bresson and Others: non secular Syle within the Cinema is an try and record this impact via essays on fifteen overseas administrators who in Bresson's wake, who actually could have inspired him (Carl Dreyer), or who contemporaneously labored veins just like these present in Bresson's movies (Ingmar Bergman, Yasujiro Ozu). those essays are preceded through an creation to the cinema of Robert Bresson and via movie credit, a bibliography of feedback, and an index. the topic of Bresson and Others, then, may possibly particularly be Bressonian cinema, yet, in a normal experience, it could actually even be stated to be spirit and matter--or movie and religion.

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What counts is that each sequence is a kind of meditation or filmic song on this fundamental theme as revealed by the mise en scène, whose aim is not to demonstrate but to show or to revel. Moreover, how could anyone resist the moving spiritual presence here of Ingrid Bergman? Beyond this actress, how could the viewer remain insensitive to the intensity of a mise en scène in which the universe seems to be organized along spiritual lines of force, to the point that it sets them off as manifestly as the iron filings in a magnetic field?

Our Ozu, the Ozu we know well, is mostly the latter Ozu, of such films, in addition to Tokyo Story, as An Autumn Afternoon (1962), Floating Weeds (1959), and Late Spring (1949). This is not an unbearable fate. Late Ozu would not exist without the experience that preceded it, it’s true; but what we have is a treasury. That treasury is one of at least two that Japanese cinema has bequeathed to us, the other being from Akira Kurosawa. Even as, in his own nation, Kurosawa is called the most Western of Japanese directors, Ozu is called the most Japanese of filmmakers by his countrymen, and an American like me can see at least a little bit of why this is so.

As an assistant I could drink all I wanted and spend my time talking. ” There is no evidence that Ozu gave up drinking and talking, but there’s plenty of evidence that he soon got a reputation for hard work. In 1927 he made his first film. He wrote the script with Kogo Noda, with whom he also wrote the script of Tokyo Story in 1953, as well as many other scripts. Most of Ozu’s early pictures were light comedies, like the very first movie he worked on as an assistant. I have no intention, though, of sketching his whole career for more than the obvious reasons: some of the early films have disappeared, and the remaining ones have not all been available in the United States.

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