Bresson on Bresson: Interviews, 1943–1983

Edited by Mylène Bresson, trans. from the French by Anna Moschovakis. New York Review Books, $24.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-68137-044-6
What strikes one about this illuminating collection of interviews with revered French filmmaker Robert Bresson (1901–1999), edited by his widow, Mylène, is the unwavering consistency of the philosophy. Thoughts appear time and again, always just a bit more refined—just like his films. In several interviews, Bresson explains the unaffected performances he elicited by saying he tells his actors, “When you’re talking, talk to yourself.” Not that there is much dialogue in his famously spare work; in 1960 he states, “What I’m trying to do is to come up to the edge of saying too little, in order to try to express what other films express with words instead with silence.” He repeatedly compares directing to painting, his first métier, observing that the relationship between colors makes meaning in paintings; likewise, the juxtaposition of images makes meaning in filmmaking. One would be hard pressed to find more than a few interviews where he doesn’t speak against the cinema of the time—which he refers to as “filmed theater.” Cinephiles will delight in reading this book and following Bresson’s thinking as it develops further and makes each interview more compelling than the last. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2016
Release date: 11/08/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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