Robert Bresson: An Introduction
This free online cinema course introduces you to Robert Bresson, a highly regarded 20th century French filmmaker.Publisher: NPTEL
CertificationView course modules
Robert Bresson remains one of the world’s most highly regarded filmmakers. He was a practitioner of French New Wave cinema (also called ‘French Nouvelle Vogue’), where the French filmmakers believed in casting amateur actors to get a performance that was low on melodrama. They believed in making low budget films, used hand-held cameras, preferred natural light to studio lights and opted for shooting live on locations as they rejected the orthodox cinematic practices of the 1950s. This course analyzes some of Bresson's works: ‘A Man Escaped’ (1956), ‘Pickpocket’ (1959) and ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’ (1966), which are examples of minimalism and spirituality depicted in films. We explain the influences on Bresson's films and the legacy of French New Wave cinema, which allowed the audience a great deal of freedom to interpret films on their own. We define terms like ‘democratization of films’, ‘auteur’, ‘auteurial voice’, ‘fluid-camera motion’ and ‘film noir’.
The course begins with ‘Pickpocket’, which was greatly influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. The title of this film has a negative connotation but we dig deeper to find moral existential themes. We then move on to ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’ and ‘A Man Escaped’ while making a detour to Hollywood as we explain the ideas of canon and canonical text in cinema. The French critics admired the technique of Orson Welles, who directed ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941) and the auteurs Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks so we discuss international cinematic norms to help you to understand what drives film criticism.
Bresson made thirteen films in a career spanning almost forty years and was embraced by the cinematic revolutionists of the French New Wave, which spanned the 1950s to 1960s and was one of the most influential film movements in the history of international cinema. Bresson took exquisite care with the making of his films and we examine them in depth to help you appreciate his attention to the minutest of detail. This course offers insight into some of the great works in international cinema and suits any cinephile or aspirant film critic. The media landscape is in constant flux and offers a wide range of opportunities to those with flexible skillsets. This course can enrich your understanding of the finer nuances of filmmaking and make you a more informed writer about cinema and culture.Start Course Now
Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
- Outline the traits of French New Wave cinema
- Analyze the works of Robert Bresson and his contribution to cinema
- Discuss the ideas of the ‘democratization of cinema’
- Compare interpretations of ‘Pickpocket’, ‘The Man Escaped’ and ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’
- Identify the key concept of ‘canon’ and ‘canonical text’ in cinema
- Explain how some films adhere to certain principles of canonical text
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