Archive for February 7th, 2009


by Allan Fish

(France 1950 120m) DVD1/2

Aka. Journal d’un Curé de Campagne

Is this the way to Ambricourt?

p  Léon Carre  d/w  Robert Bresson  ph  Léonce-Henri Burel  ed  Paulette Robert  m  Jean-Jacques Grünenwald  art  Pierre Charbonnier

Claude Laydu (the priest of Ambricourt), André Guibert (the priest of Torcy), Jean Riveyre (Le Comte), Nicole Ladmiral (Chantal), Nicole Mauray (Louise), Rachel Bérendt (Le Comtesse), Martine Lemaire (Séraphita), Antoine Balpêtré (Dr Delbende), Jean Danet (Olivier), Gaston Séverin (Canon), Jeanne Étéviant (housekeeper), Bernard Hubrenne (priest Dufrety),

I know, awful pun, even mentioning Tony Christie in the same sentence as Robert Bresson.  Yet, this really is the way to Ambricourt and also the way to the first great film of this most singular of minimalist directors.  With this, his third completed feature film, an object lesson in spiritual harmony and understatement, Bresson joined the league of the supreme masters.  It’s a film that of course personifies his fears, philosophies and attitudes in a nutshell, and those who compare it to the works of Bergman, and, especially, Dreyer, are right to do so.  Yet in many ways, their work is poles apart.

            In the thirties, an unnamed priest comes to the remote country village of Ambricourt.  There he is subjected to much indifference, more than a little ridicule and a great deal of apathy.  Yet like many such altruists, he accepts his lot, accepts his parishioners faults, attempting merely to be there for them when they need him.  He eats very little, and when he does he runs the risk of becoming ill.  What he doesn’t realise is that his faith is about to be put to the ultimate test; he’s dying of terminal cancer. (more…)

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