A terrific encapsulation of the philosophies and techniques behind the cinematic masterpieces of Robert Bresson, from the...


INTERVIEWS, 1943-1983

Reflections of a cinematic grandmaster.

Robert Bresson (1901-1999) was one of the few directors of France’s cinematic old guard to be taken up by the iconoclastic French New Wave filmmakers, as the upstarts admired his exacting and poetic aesthetic and his commitment to the idea of pure cinema. In these short interviews, Bresson, who was given to such gnomic proclamations as, “sound cinema invented silence,” proves to be a deeply analytical thinker who nonetheless puts a premium on intuition and instinct. In landmark films including Pickpocket (1959) and The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), the director famously eschewed theatrical notions of “acting,” casting nonprofessionals in the interest of capturing authentic behavior. Measured, austere, and elegant in their simplicity, Bresson’s films produce profound emotional effects. The extent to which the filmmaker was conscious of every aspect of his craft in achieving those effects, as well as his enduring, passionate dedication to better understanding and expanding his tools, is on illuminating display in these conversations. Most compelling is an extended exchange with New Wave enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard, whose interrogation of Bresson reveals a penetrating and nuanced appreciation of the older man’s films and provides a poignant reminder of the heady, collaborative, intellectual community that was the film culture of the mid-1960s. Bresson’s monklike devotion to his idea of “pure” cinema wavers not a bit over the course of the four decades represented here, but it is his optimism and faith in his medium that inspire the greatest admiration. The book ends with this statement from Bresson, made in 1983, with 40 years of revelatory cinema behind him: “The cinema is immense. We haven’t done a thing.” That’s not an admonition; it’s an invitation.

A terrific encapsulation of the philosophies and techniques behind the cinematic masterpieces of Robert Bresson, from the man himself.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68137-044-6

Page Count: 296

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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