Close Up

6 - 13 November 2015: A Man Escaped

A Man Escaped
Robert Bresson
1956 | 98 min | B/W | 35mm

"I had quite a lot on my side: an increasingly determined urge to escape, a plan already sketched out in broad outline and partially realized, the stupidity of the Germans, and a certain congenital predisposition to good luck on which I was always consciously drawn. There were two elements in this plan: mine and God's. Where, I wondered, was the dividing-line set?" – André Devigny, Un condamné à mort s'est échappé

"A Man Escaped tells the true story of a Frenchman’s escape from a German prison camp during World War II. Although the title reveals the film’s denouement, the taut filmmaking keeps viewers on the edge of their seats throughout, suspense deriving from process and ritual rather than narrative surprise. Bresson restricts himself to the point of view of the imprisoned Fontaine whose limited visual environment and precise focus on minute details introduces the subtractive practice that Bresson will bring to all his subsequent work, wherein any character, incident, location or object not considered essential is banished from the film. As such, the film serves as a brilliant introduction to Bresson’s style and central themes. The film’s subtitle, Le vent souffle où il veut, could be translated as "Whatever Will Be, Will Be;" taken together, the two parts of the title sum up a central tension in Bresson’s work: that between free will and predetermination." – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our Robert Bresson season