Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jean-Luc Godard's Trailer for Mouchette

Perhaps the greatest, most hopeful revelation you get from seeing Quatre Nuits d'un Reveur, especially if you've seen a good deal (or all) of Bresson's work beforehand, is his sense of humor--worldly but not misanthropic, it is suprisingly gentle and playful, yet so fitting you feel as though it's a quality you might have missed all along, as if it's been there the whole time under your nose.
Re-examination is the basis of film criticism. Jean-Luc Godard's astounding trailer for Mouchette, which he long denied having made (but finally admitted authorship by including it in a self-curated retrospective of his work) is a passionate defence of Bresson's warmth as well as the kinetic nature of his filmmaking. It jokes about the film's black-and-white austerity and its Georges Bernanos source material ("Sung by Georges," one of the simple, white on black title cards reads) while reinforcing its intensity and potency. It is not as much subversion as suggestion. It is included, along with other, equally informative extras on Criterion's release of Mouchette; it's probably the best effort to humanize Bresson for American audiences anyone's made in a while, considering the fashionability of discussing his "spirituality" by high profile know-nothings like Paul Schrader.

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