Robert Bresson

Sog., scen.: Robert Bresson. F.: Ghislain Cloquet. M.: Raymond Lamy. Scgf.: Pierre Charbonnier. Mus.: Jean Wiener. Int.: Anne Wiazemsky (Marie), François Lafarge (Gérard), Walter Green (Jacques), Nathalie Joyaut (la madre di Marie), Philippe Asselin (il padre di Marie), Jean-Claude Guilbert (Arnold), Pierre Klossowski (il venditore di granaglie), François Sullerot (il fornaio), Marie-Claire Frémont (la fornaia), Guy Bréjac (il veterinario), Jean Remignard (il notaio). Prod.: Anatole Dauman, Mag Bodard per Parc Films, Argos Films, Athos Films, AB Svensk Filmindustri, SFI ·DCP. D.: 95’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Jean-Luc Godard: I have the impression that this film, Balthazar, reflects something that goes back a long time, something you had been thinking about for fifteen years, perhaps, and to which all the films that you made then were tending. That is why one has the impression of finding again in Balthazar all your other films. In fact: it was your other films that prefigured this, as if they were fragments of it.
Robert Bresson: I had been thinking about it for a long time, but without working on it. That is to say that I worked on it by fits, and it was very hard. I wearied myself at it rather quickly. It was hard, too, from the point of view of composition. For I did not want to make a film of sketches, but I wanted, too, for the donkey to pass through a certain number of human groups ‒ which represent the vices of humanity. So it was necessary that these human groups overlap one another.
It was necessary, too ‒ given that the life of a donkey is a very even life, very serene ‒ to find a movement, a dramatic rise. So it was necessary to find a character who would be parallel to the donkey, and who would have that movement; who would give the film the dramatic rise that was necessary for it. It was just then that I thought of a girl. Of the lost girl. Or rather ‒ of the girl who loses herself.
Jean-Luc Godard: In choosing that character, were you thinking of characters from your other films? Because, seeing Balthazar today, one has the impression that this character has lived in your films, that it has passed through them all. I mean that, with it, one meets, too, the pickpocket, and Chantal. Consequently your film seems the most complete of all. It is the total film. In itself, and in relation to you. Have you that feeling?
Robert Bresson: I did not have that feeling in making the film, but I believe that I have been thinking about for ten or twelve years. Not in a continuous way. There were periods of calm, of complete nonthought, which might last two or three years. I took it up, that film, dropped it, took it up again. At times, I simply found it too difficult, and I thought that I would never do it.
So you are right to think that I had been reflecting on it for a long time. And it may be that one finds again in it what was, or what was to be, in other films of mine. It seems to me that it is also the freest film that I have made, the one into which I have put the most of myself.
You know ‒ it is so difficult, ordinarily, to put something of oneself into a film that must be accepted by a producer. But I believe that it is good, that it is even indispensable that the films we make partake of our experience. I mean, that they not be works solely of mise-en-scène.

The Question: Interview with Robert Bresson, edited by Jean-Luc Godard and Michel Delahaye, “Cahiers in English”, n. 8, 1967


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