Day 79: A Man Escaped (1956)

A Man Escaped (1956)

My Robert Bresson weekend just got extended. Balthazar was good (1966), and then I chose to delve deeper and was rewarded. I added Pickpocket (1959) as my second and last Bresson film in the eleventh week, and pretty much signed off. I was winding down from the week and published my Bresson and Kubrick essays, and then noticed on my list of important films, one called A Man Escaped (1956). Then I realised that Diary of a Country Priest (1951) was also highly regarded on many critic’s top ten list. Having done 18 of the 100 (in week eleven of fifty-two) I decided I was moving on to someone else’s films, and then suddenly changed my mind to do five Bresson films instead of one or two, now, over two weeks.

I think the factor which pushed me over the edge was reading a New Yorker article about Godard, who married the girl in Au Hasard Balthazar. Godard then wrote a film she starred in and they separated a couple of years later in a period which was obviously distressing, for various reasons, to both.

I read some articles – true or false – which led me to notice and recognize four (ridiculously unorthodox) things: linked to Bresson.

Godard finally got to direct (more than his shorts) a feature film, Breathless, and did so without an actual shooting script, one better than Bresson who made it feel like he didn’t have a screenplay in some of the films he directed,

Louis Malle got to direct Miles Davis improvising to a loop of a film, without hiring a composer, for his first film

Godard had direct influences from Bresson in the fact he got the girl (actress) from Balthazar as his girl (in a scenario) and life where he had personally been caught, as a thief (by his mother) because he needed money (Roper article in New Yorker which I skimmed), just like Gerard and just like Michel; and conceivably justified it like Michel did.

Bresson’s Michel thought that some people may be above the law, given their skill? It turned out to be right – but not in petty larceny.

Michel (in subtitles) said:

Can we not admit that certain skilled men, gifted with intelligence, talent or even genius, and thus indispensable to society, rather than stagnate, should be free to disobey laws in certain cases?

Of course, my question is, despite that, they are being out of this world in terms of the creativity any artist can aspire to, so how did Godard do it, and then create an industry from one bizarre success?