Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Trial of Joan of Arc 1961

A Bresson film has the virtue of brevity (this one sums up the historic trial in just an hour), but they do not yield to a single or a casual view. This film has a hypnotic effect, even in its apparent monotone and absence of overt drama. The film begins and ends with a movement of feet; at the beginning, those of her mother, proceeding to the restoration proceeding, and the end, as Joan is hurried, pushed or goaded towards the steps of the pillory. Human speech is underplayed and eliminated to a limit in all his films. Some situations are impossible to enact--since Bresson frequently ventures into such territory, he simply avoids the acting and emoting. He uses sound and motion--he loves to show only the lower half of the human form, When someone is walking along or opening a door, what do we need the face or its expressions for? Serenity is achieved by such exclusions of the superfluous. Sound effects--a key turning in a lock, the sound made by a chain, a gun shot-- play an important part in his composition

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