A Man Escaped
(Un condamné à mort s’est échappé)
François Leterrier, Charles LeClainche, Maurice Beerblock,
Also screens in In Focus: Robert Bresson
A Man Escaped is pure film existentialism. From a newspaper account by a Resistance leader who escaped from a Nazi prison in Lyon just hours before he was to be executed, Bresson created a film in which the drama is all internal. Minimizing the drama of prison life, paradoxically he maximizes its intensity, concentrating on his character Fontaine’s solitude, and on prison relationships in which a tap on the wall, a whisper in the washroom, are bridges to another’s soul. For the rest, he emphasizes the material preparation for escape—the spoon Fontaine must steal, then shape into a cutting tool; the labor involved in taking apart his door. Set to Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, this is a genuinely moving encounter with limits, and the need to transcend them. It is a true action film.