Robert Bresson: Alias Grace (Sight & Sound Nov 2007)
CC filmmakers, Bruno Dumont and Aki Kaurismaki (among others) were questioned about their relation to Robert Bresson.
- Q : What is Bresson's significance for you?
- BD : (...) Another thing I admire is his direction of actors: this element in his films that seems blank or neutral but in fact involves a great deal of artifice. The way he works with his actors, and recounts the story through their eyes, is achieved by demanding and authoritative processes that result in a lesson in how to be exacting, how to make cinema with limited means.(...) What I found in Bresson is a form of cinema that's austere and sombre, that makes us look inside ourselves and examine our own lives, that has a philosophical dimension which is no longer present in the general entertainments of cinema. It has the same heightened style and grandeur you find in great tragedy.
- Q : What, if anything, have you borrowed from Bresson's cinema?
- BD : I don't think of Bresson in terms of my own cinema - I feel closer to Rossellini, Kubrick or Bergman. (...) our methods are very different - for instance, I work mostly with direct sound, which Bresson never did. (...) And I'm not joking when I say I want to make films that are popular; I have no desire to hide in the margins. I believe you can make films that are popular and rigorous, that have a dignity to them.
- Q : What do you see as Bresson's true legacy?
- BD : Critics struggle to find analogies with Bresson each time a film-maker does something vaguely similar. But Bresson carved out his own path and it would be foolish simply to follow in his footsteps. He broke away from the theatrical tradition of cinema to create films where the sound is quite extraordinary - if you look at Jacques Tati you'll find the same thing, though he's concerned with comedy not tragedy. As for Bresson's legacy, Maurice Pialat was greatly influenced by him, but he became Pialat. And Bresson himself was certainly influenced by Dreyer when he began. There's that continuity in cinema: we're all part of the same story.
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Q : What is Bresson's significance for you?
AK : I admire his unique rhythm in editing, his habit of leaving the picture 'empty' now and then before the cut.
Q : What is your favourite Bresson film and why?
AK : Au hasard Balthazar: it's always more touching and brightening to follow a donkey than a man.
Q : What, if anything, have you borrowed from Bresson's cinema?
AK : I imitated his style partly openly in my childish way in The Match Factory Girl in 1989.
Q : What do you see as Bresson's true legacy?
AK : No mercy for mankind when it is not deserved - in other words, never.