Austere Perfectionism: The Films of Robert Bresson

1/19/12 to 2/25/12

This complete retrospective of French director Robert Bresson's fourteen films-austere and controlled, yet replete with compassion-reveals the beauty and perfectionism of his singular body of work. “Bresson touched something very close to the bone of what French cinema is about; ultimately he defined it” (Olivier Assayas).

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Past Films

  • L'argent

    • Saturday, February 25 8:35 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1983). A young man unknowingly passes counterfeit money and sets off an escalating spiral of crimes, in Bresson's last film, an adaptation of a Tolstoy novella- a tough, terse investigation of the power of money. Admired by directors such as Olivier Assayas, Martin Scorsese, and Richard Linklater. (85 mins)

  • Four Nights of a Dreamer

    • Saturday, February 18 8:20 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1971) New 35mm Print! Bresson returns to Dostoevsky in this tale of a shy painter who saves a woman from suicide, and their eventual ill-fated affair. “A movie about the condition of being in love. It is shockingly beautiful…and may well be Bresson's loveliest film” (New York Times). (94 mins)

  • Une femme douce

    • Saturday, February 18 6:30 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1969) Dominique Sanda stars in Bresson's first color film, the story of a young woman who commits suicide. Adapted from a Dostoevsky short story. (88 mins)

  • A Man Escaped

    • Friday, February 17 7 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1956) New 35mm Print! 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. “Essential viewing” (Jonathan Rosenbaum). (97 mins)

  • Lancelot of the Lake

    • Saturday, February 11 8:30 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1974). Bresson gives us Lancelot and Guinevere and the end of the Arthurian era, a brave experiment in sound, image, and souls. “Stunningly beautiful, mesmerizing, exhausting, uplifting, amazing-all the things you could possibly expect from a masterpiece” (Time Out). (85 mins)

  • The Trial of Joan of Arc

    • Friday, February 10 7 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1962). In an austere, transcendent dramatization of the actual Joan of Arc trial transcripts, Robert Bresson conveys the mystery of the woman and the reality of the saint. “Trial seems like a historical document from an era in which cinema doesn't exist” (Jean Cocteau). (65 mins)

  • Les dames du Bois de Boulogne

    • Friday, February 10 8:25 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1945). Bresson's most accessible work (on the surface) updates an eighteenth-century Diderot novel to contemporary Paris and concerns a beautiful woman who takes revenge on her ex-lover. Antonioni called it a great influence on his own work. “A landmark in cinema history” (David Thomson). (90 mins)

  • Les anges du péché

    • Sunday, February 5 4 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1943) New 35mm Print! Bresson's first full-length feature follows a sophisticated young woman into the closed world of a convent. (96 mins)

  • The Devil Probably

    • Friday, February 3 7 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1977) New 35mm Print! Sick of the modern world, a chic Parisian seeks his own death in what has been called Bresson's most cynical, controversial film, as relevant now as then. “When a civilization can produce a work of art as perfectly achieved as this, it is hard to believe that there is no hope for it” (Richard Roud). (93 mins)

  • Pickpocket

    • Saturday, January 28 6:30 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1959). A Parisian thief's anguish and redemption are played out in a famous reworking of Crime and Punishment. Robert Bresson's style is austere, yet deeply affecting and filled with compassion. (75 mins)

  • Diary of a Country Priest

    • Saturday, January 28 8:10 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1950) A young country priest tries to live a pure life of goodness, but his parishioners respond with only scorn and indifference, in Bresson's masterful work. “A film of great purity, and at the end, almost Bach-like intensity” (Pauline Kael). (114 mins)

  • Mouchette

    • Saturday, January 21 6:30 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1967). Robert Bresson's portrayal of the life and death of a despised country girl is gritty yet lyrical and ultimately sublime. “In Mouchette, the world itself is a mystical stage” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice). (80 mins)

  • Au hasard Balthazar

    • Thursday, January 19 7 pm

    Robert Bresson (France, 1966). Bresson found the perfect protagonist for this film in a donkey, "born, like all beings, to suffer and die needlessly and mysteriously. . . . A morbidly beautiful flower of cinematic art" (Andrew Sarris). (95 mins)