a full mind as well as a lively heart

2018/12/13 § Leave a comment

If you are a writer or have ever thought yourself inclined to be one, Alan Jacobs provides some really, really good insights to take to heart.


Tarkovsky’s interests

2018/12/06 § Leave a comment

“I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.”

— Andrei Tarkovsky

The Last Days of FilmStruck: Mouchette (1967)

2018/12/04 § Leave a comment

“Mouchette offers evidence of misery and cruelty. She is found everywhere: wars, concentration camps, tortures, assassinations.”
— Robert Bresson1

Minimalistic, spare, assaulting, tragic: Mouchette is a film by the unmatched Robert Bresson. This is the second film of his I have watched (Pickpocket was the first). This film, in its own way, touched me deeply. And as I learn more about Bresson’s methods (his actor-model technique in particular), I appreciate what I have seen even more than before. At the heart of the performances in films such as Mouchette or Pickpocket lies a disconnect between the actor and acting. Bresson is uninterested in having “performance” in his film and as such instructs his actors to not show emotion. Furthermore, he apparently preferred using amateur actors in his films. [spoilers herein]


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William Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXIII

2018/12/03 § Leave a comment

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Shmuel Ben-gad on Robert Bresson

2018/12/03 § Leave a comment

Bresson insists on realism in a less subtle way, namely, in his avoidance of acting. He does not use actors, and refers to the people who appear in his films as “models.” Through extremely precise direction of speech, movement, and gesture, and also much repetition before shooting scenes, he manages to have his models move and speak in an automatic way — that is to say, without attempting either to project or suppress emotion. While Bresson recognizes the legitimacy of acting in the theater, he does not approve of it in films, where he regards it as “inventing” or “deforming” persons. According to him, it violates the particularity and purpose of cinema — the most realistic of the arts — which is to show realities. Turning to his Notes once again, we read: “What our eyes and ears require is not the realistic personal but the real person.” And again, concerning models: “Movement from the exterior to the interior. (Actors: movement from the interior to the exterior.)” Acting is the projection of simulacra of emotions that the actor does not feel. It is a simulation meant to make visible and obvious what the character is supposedly thinking and feeling. There is a credibility in Bresson’s models: They are like people we meet in life, more or less opaque creatures who speak, move, and gesture. Bresson believes — and I concur — that the words he has his models utter and the movements and gestures he has them make in an automatic, nonintentional way, invariably, if subtly, evoke human depths because the models, after all, are human beings. Acting, on the other hand, no matter how naturalistic, actively deforms or invents by putting an overlay or filter over the person, presenting a simplification of a human being and not allowing the camera to capture the actor’s human depths. Thus what Bresson sees as the essence of filmic art, the achievement of the creative transformation involved in all art through the interplay of images of real things, is destroyed by the artifice of acting. For Bresson, then, acting is, like mood music and expressive camera work, just one more way of deforming reality or inventing that has to be avoided.

— Shmuel Ben-gad, “To See the World Profoundly: The Films of Robert Bresson”

The soul is in contact with God

2018/12/02 § Leave a comment

“There is the feeling that God is everywhere, and the more I live, the more I see that in nature, in the country. When I see a tree, I see that God exists. I try to catch and to convey the idea that we have a soul and that the soul is in contact with God. That’s the first thing I want to get in my films.”

— Robert Bresson, “Robert Bresson in Conversation”, Transatlantic Review (16-23)