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Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Five-Star Flashback

Ok, I'll post some news soon, but either way...

A Man Escaped (1956)
Dir. Robert Bresson
A Bresson film is like a series of memories, and somehow, more than any other director, save perhaps Wenders or Kieslowski, can tie those images into the language of the mind in the same way we remember our own memories. Perhaps it is his fascination with sound, or the very unique editing rythym. Either way his films are much more powerful in the time after you see them than while watching them. Often they are more enjoyable after, too. Some of his later work is so opaque and difficult that while it feels like an experience of purification, it is quite uncomfortable viewing. However, this is my favorite of his films, and his most accesible. The more literal translation of the title is A Man who is condemned to death escapes, and like all of Bresson's work has Christian symbolism. This is a film about salvation, of grace. A French Freedom Fighter is arrested, and over several weeks slowly finds the perfect way to escape, only to have to face an enormous moral decision on the night he is set to escape. The film is gorgeous in every aspect of film making. And it is not a slow, depressing durge like many religious art films and I say that with the most respect. The film is taut, emotional, gripping, and exciting. The claustrophobic climate of a prison cell lends itself almost idealy to Bresson's style of filmmaking, with off camera action and sound. The film is great to watch, but like all of Bresson's work becomes something much more in our memories for seeing it.

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