Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film

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9780826416056: Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film
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Although Robert Bresson is widely regarded by movie critics and students of the cinema as one of the greatest directors of the twentieth century, his films are largely unknown and are rarely shown in the English-speaking world. Nonetheless, Susan Sontag has called Bresson "the master of the reflective mode in film."Martin Scorsese suggested that a young filmmaker should ask: "Is it as tough as Bresson?... Is [meaning] as ruthlessly pared down, as direct, as unflinching in its gaze at aspects of life I might feel more comfortable ignoring?" Questions that every reader of this book and every viewer of Bresson's films will also ask.Joseph Cunneen's book, now in paperback, introduces Bresson's movies to a broader audience, assesses thirteen of his most significant films in the context of detailed plot summaries, vivid descriptions of characters and settings, and perceptive, jargon-free insights into the director's execution, intention, and technique. Each of these films in its own way illustrates what Joseph Cunneen calls Bresson's "spiritual style." Though not necessarily focused on the explicitly religious, they illustrate two complementary principles: on the negative side, the rejection of what the director called "photographed theater" with its artificiality and dependence on celebrity performers. On the more positive side, as Bresson himself expressed it, the conviction that, "The supernatural is only the real rendered more precise; real things seen close up."

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About the Author:

Joseph Cunneen is co-founder of the international quarterly Cross Currents where he was also editor for nearly half a century. He has published studies on the film makers Kieslowski, Rohmer, Tarkovsky, and Bresson, and has contributed articles on religious and cultural issues to such journals as America, Commonweal, Esprit, Midstream, and The Nation.

Review:

"Bresson is to French film what Dostoevsky is to the Russian novel and Mozart to German music."—Jean-Luc Godard

"Bresson stands as an ideal of simplicity.... I find him very close to the oriental concept of Zen: depth within narrowly defined limits."—Andrei Tarkovsky

"With tightly-written, jargon-free prose and an abundance of critical insights, film critic Cunneen reivews Bresson's oeuvre, finding meaning in his subject's view that life can be demanding or tragic but is ultimately redeemed by our common vulnerability and humanity....this is a worthy effort to make the work of an uncompromising artist accessible to general audiences and a new generation of film students. Recommended for large public and academic film collections."—Steven Rees, Library Journal, April 15, 2003

"Anyone who cherishes the connection between faith and film needs to revisit Bresson and take Cunneen along as a spiritual companion. Cunneen's Catholic sensibility and previous studies...show him to be a trustworthy and knowledgeable guide. And because watching Bresson's films unaccompanied can be difficult and at times confusing, Cunneen's book is just what the serious film student needs for the journey."—James M. Wall, Christian Century, July 26, 2003

"Cunneen clearly nails the spiritual effect of his subject's style. Though Bresson won't promise happy endings, 'his austere, clear-eyed cinematography fosters a deep understanding of the grandeur and pain of our common humanity.' Recommended." -M. Yaco

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9780826414717: Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film

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ISBN 10:  0826414710 ISBN 13:  9780826414717
Publisher: Continuum, 2003
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