Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A MAN ESCAPED (French) (1956)

‘The image must exclude the idea of image.’

It’s said that Bresson made fourteen films during his career and every one of them is nothing less than masterpiece. What separates Bresson from all other Masters of world cinema is his absolute minimalist approach to the filmmaking where cinema becomes something so interior movement guided purely by the images and by his models. He called his non professional actors ‘models’ and these models are so detached from their expressions, style or acting in conventional sense. For Bresson sets and actors or theatricality is nothing but an absolute artificiality. Throughout his life he treated image in his films as soul of filmmaking and it’s so pure that even though his quite rigid untraditional baggage of filmmaking, it creates something so divine on screen that’s hard to forget.
‘A Man Escaped’ is so far my fourth Bresson film and if I’m not mistaking it’s his most accessible film for any viewers immaterial of artistic or common taste and perhaps his most positive film as far the end is concerned. Oops I revealed the secret…anyway that is made quite clear in the title itself! Bresson made it very clear in the very first frame of the film even before we see the image that-‘This is true story. I’ve told it as happened, unadorned.’ And he truly represented it so unadorned; abstained from all traditional filmmaking grammar.

I just love the way Bresson selected the faces of his models, Francois Letterrier here is an inscrutable and impassive man from the very first frame and even while looking at his face nobody can grasp what’s happening in his mind. We witness his first futile attempt to escape from car as the film opens. He was severely beaten and abstained from food for couple of days, and he's under solitary confinement and constant inspection and still his courage and spirit to escape remains as firm and solid as rock. Alone in his cell, he kept doing his work, slowly and steadily chipping his way to freedom.
With what alacrity or meticulous detailing the film showed us the man’s attempt, planning to escape and its execution in climax! It reminds me Dassin’s that unparalleled heist sequence of ‘Rififi’. He’s under constant threat of getting caught and being executed just like other cell mates and yet he kept intact the flame of his hope and spirit alive. There is always leitmotif of overt symbolism in most of Bresson films whether religious, political and existential dimensions and one may interpret it in varied texts here but apart of all, the film is so simple and heart-warming one for even for his common theme of the man’s freedom and redemption of human soul.
After seeing this film Jean-Luc Godard said that ‘Bresson is to French cinema what Mozart is to German music and Dostoevsky to Russian Literature’.
Need I rate something like this!

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