My Gleanings

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Positif and Robert Bresson

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the publisher G K Hall put in print a series of books on film directors in the A Guide to References and Resources series. All sources of information about the director was gather together, including a bibliography of the major writings about the director. In 1983, Hall published Robert Bresson, a guide to references and resources by Jane Sloan. What follows is a list of the articles in that bibliography that either appeared in Positif or were written by a major Positif contributor of that era for another magazine and Jane Sloan's resumes of those articles.

The earliest, and probably most favorable, article (actually, articles, as it was published in installments spread out from the 2nd to the 5th issue of Positif) was by the founder of the review Bernard Chardère. Jane Sloan, the author of Robert Bresson a guide to references and resources takes up a little more than a page summing up critique of Bresson which she describes as "a wide-ranging series of essays on 'classic cinema', defined as an ideal cinema of revelation"

Positif 1/57 Ado Kyrou reviews Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (A Man Escaped) by Ado Kyrou. Sloan's summation is "a diatribe on Un condamné à mort s'est échappé. Kyrou first states that Bresson makes so few films because he has only contempt for cinema. Condamné is a "beautiful subject" that Bresson has destroyed by eliminating all elements that might suggest passion; there are no characters, ideas, truth, time, or space in the film. However, Bresson might have a "brilliant career as a director in radio".

Positif 1/57 The review published Kyrou's review with another review by one Marcel Ranchal. Sloan writes "Positive review of Un condamné à mort s'est échappé focusing on the morality and courage of Fontaine's actions."

Positif 4/60 Louis Seguin reviews Pickpocket. "In a very negative review, Seguin discusses Bresson's ideas as 'simplistic.' Only Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne deserves Bresson's exalted reputation as a nurturer of 'debates on high-altitude metaphysics'.''

Positif 4/60 Roger Tailleur reviews Pickpocket. "Negative review: 'Dostoyevsky written by an abusive disciple of Hemingway. . . . A perfect exercise in style if one accepts a definition of style as the act of jumping over intermediate ideas, points, and words.'"

Positif 7/62 Robert Benayoun. Jane Sloan comments, "Short notice bemoaning the selection of Procès de Jeanne d'Arc as the French entry at Cannes."

Positif 7-8/63 Paul-Louis Thirard reviews Procès de Jeanne d'Arc. Sloan comments, "Wrap-up of the attitudes of the always hostile Positif critics towards Bresson and criticism of Procès de Jeanne d'Arc for being overly intellectual."

Positif 10/66 Robert Benayoun reviews Au hasard Balthazar . Sloan comments, "Attacks Bresson's audience as a passive minority who wish to turn cinema into a 'a sort of non-Actor's studio for neurasthenic zombies'."

Positif 4/67 Michel Ciment. Sloan comments, "Essay review of Drouget's Robert Bresson which is admired for its 'fresh approach', having been written by a nonspecialist."

Positif 6/67 Robert Benayoun. Sloan comments, "Review of Mouchette. Benayoun praises the bumper-car scene ('when Bresson wants to, he knows the technique') and ridicules the rest as 'ritual masturbation'."

Positif 1/71 Jean-Paul Torok Sloan comments, "Negative review of the film [Une Femme douce] which merely gives evidence of Bresson's continuing mental deterioration."

La Quinzaine Littéraure Jan 15 1972 Louis Seguin. Sloan comments, "Review of Quatre nuits d'un rêveur contrasting it with Visconti's version of the same story. Seguin argues that Bresson, by his use of minimalist imagery and metonymy, reduces coherent reality to a contradiction. Bresson 'burns the bridges' of accumulated culture, but replaces it with 'nothing'."

Positif 11/74 Michel Sineux. Sloan comments, "Negative review of this 'clichéd' film [Lancelot de Lac] made by a 'megalomaniac of the ellipse'. Sineux see the continuous averting of the eyes as 'aesthetic constipation'."

La Quinzaine Littéraure no date 1977 Louis Seguin. Sloan comments, "Review comparing the film [Le Diable probablement] with the tragic romanticism Goethe. Though Bresson does not allow himself to agree with the analysis he presents, Seguin wonders how he can compromise his reputation with so common a theme as ecology."

Labels: , , , ,