… And everything continues on as though the public were not actually interested in the truth, but in its rhetorical alibis, not in the message, but in that part of entropy that muddles.
… I see works which are as current as if made yesterday. They have a directness which transcends fashion, and they have a great efficacy of means. The emotion is contained, insidious, digging inside you, and like a cancer, it grows. It takes you a while to realize that Bresson made you think, by weaving for your eyes and ears a fabric of effects. But our thinking is done after viewing the film.
[line break added] Bresson shows you the immanence of fleeting fragments. He takes the distinction and separation of image and sound out of film. He literally merges the two. We hear what we see and we see what we hear. He doesn’t illustrate but manufactures a machine for your use. He makes you think that you can use it for yourself.
When I see his films, I feel empowered with feeling. It is as if what I have seen is now part of my own past life, has been integrated into my own experience. It stops being a movie.
This next is from Jacques Rivette:
… It seems that no other filmmaker has ever pursued — so ardently — such direct communication with the viewer (that is, a relation of equality, not one of submission as Hitchcock). Next to Bresson, in this aspect, even Buñuel and Rossellini seem rhetorical.
Here than are the most “public” films, the most commercial films that could exist: it is clear what we are dealing with. And everything continues on as though the public were not actually interested in the truth, but in its rhetorical alibis, not in the message, but in that part of entropy that muddles.
The following is from Martin Scorsese:
It’s a strange experience to watch a Bresson film at this particular moment in history, because a great deal of today’s popular cinema is so big, loud, kinetic and, in many cases, grotesque. In other words, the antithesis of Bresson’s cinema. I saw A Man Escaped again recently, and it’s such a completely pure experience, with absolutely nothing extraneous — it functions like a delicate and perfectly calibrated hand-made machine.
… Once Elvis Costello said that whenever he’s writing a song he asks himself: is it as tough as Hank Williams? Meaning: is it as ruthlessly pared down, as direct, as unflinching in its gaze at aspects of life I might feel more comfortable ignoring? Young filmmakers might ask themselves: is it as tough as Bresson?
My most recent previous post from this book is here.