My Robert Bresson week didn’t unfold as I had hoped. I had assumed Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) would be more immediately accessible. It wasn’t. And that’s why I watched it three times this week. I had Mouchette (1967) and The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) available, but I couldn’t move past Balthazar until I had a better understanding.
Last night I published my Au Hasard Balthazar observations (and an essay about the overwhelming visual achievement of 2001: A Space Odyssey). Tonight I reserved for the other film that featured prominently on many critics and directors top ten lists, Bresson’s Pickpocket (1959). Interestingly (I read somewhere that) Bresson was a painter, and (after hearing an interview this week with) Kubrick was a photographer. Their images are arresting. So many frames of Pickpocket and 2001 are great visual compositions.
I enjoyed Pickpocket, appreciated it, and found it instantly more accessible than Balthazar. I don’t know why it’s an important film – I’ve written these words many times before – but I’m sure further study would reveal more than I perceived tonight.
I’m intrigued, as I was with Bergman, why four films by Bresson feature in the top ten lists of many of those who were polled by the BFI. I watched 9 Bergman films to understand the former. I’ve not given the same time to Bresson. There’s not the time in the week to bring together my other thoughts about the previous films viewed in the past 78 days. I can’t give Bresson anymore time but I’m still keen to see A Man Escaped (1956).