Eight-film series screens every Tuesday in March and April
Rochester, N.Y., March 5, 2012—The work of French filmmaker Robert Bresson, one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time, will be showcased at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House as part of a two-month series. Although a challenge to gather together prints of his films, the Dryden will present a selection of the master’s films every Tuesday evening throughout March and April.
Over the course of a six-decade career, Bresson made only 13 features. “Actually, this is an abundance, as each film seems to distill a lifetime of concentration and feeling: every shot is precise and perfect, every cut conveys meaning, and every emotion is earned,” said Lori Donnelly, Eastman House film programmer.
Born in 1901, Bresson did not turn to filmmaking full-time until 1943, after an early career as a painter and photographer and a year spent in a German POW camp. Though his first two features were comparatively conventional, his style soon became increasingly unique, moving toward an approach that the director labeled as “emotional, not representational.” To that effect, his visual style became sparer and more controlled, his sound design more layered, and his actors entirely non-professional.
Like fellow master Ingmar Bergman, his themes were often spiritual and his characters on the precipice of despair, but the director’s consummate craft and insight into the human condition produce a rare kind of exaltation. These people live in this world and caress every corner of it. Their bodies are beautiful in their imperfections, their attitudes self-effacing, anxious, cocky, and innocent in all the recognizable ways. Above all, Bresson is a social filmmaker. If his early work earned praise for its humanist values, then his ’60s and ’70s output is messier, awkwardly lurching through a violent political landscape. Continually, Bresson pursues a radical empathy, forcing us to engage and experience the world around us. This approach influenced filmmakers from Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader (their Taxi Driver bears heavy traces of Pickpocket) to Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (L’enfant, Lorna’s Silence).
The eight films of the Bresson series are presented in conjunction with a nationally touring retrospective, and include several that have been imported from France and cannot be screened easily or often.
The films of the Bresson
Tuesday, March 6, 8 p.m.
A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffléoù il veut, Robert Bresson, France 1956, 99 min., French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, March 13, 8 p.m.
Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne (Robert Bresson, France1945, 84 min., French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, March 20, 8 p.m.
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, France 1959, 75 min., French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, March 27, 8 p.m.
The Trial of Joan of Arc (Procès de Jeanne d’Arc, France 1962, 65 min., French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, April 3, 8 p.m.
Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, France 1966, 95 min.,French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, April 10, 8 p.m. Members Movie Night!
Four Nights of a Dreamer (Quatre nuits d’unrêveur, Robert Bresson, France 1971, 87 min., French w/subtitles). Members admitted free.
Tuesday, April 17, 8 p.m.
The Devil, Probably (Le diable probablement, Robert Bresson,France 1977, 95 min., French w/subtitles)
Tuesday, April 24, 8 p.m.
L’Argent (Robert Bresson, France 1983, 83 min., French w/subtitles)
Admission to each screening is regular Dryden pricing: $8 general/$6 students. For more information please call (585) 271-3361 or visit dryden.eastmanhouse.org.