Director: Robert Bresson
Year Released: 1950
I don't know what to think of Bresson's view on religion - at least from this film, anyway - which divides humanity into the saved and the not saved, the sinners and the saints. Obviously, the title character fits the 'saint' category and much has been written about the title character's quest of "grace," which is defined by Bresson as a willingness to be tormented by malevolent little girls and corrupt adults - which the world depicted is not in short supply of - and dying in a wretched state after having endured a flailing by everyone - people are miserable, faithless and angry, and the country priest shoulders their blame and absorbs their hostile, Godless monologues. I think part of my reluctance to accept this over, say, Bergman's Winter Light or Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew or Dreyer's Ordet is Bresson's reluctance to shape the material like they did - he just does a lot of fade-ins, fade-to-blacks and shows several scenes of agonized faces and sunken-cheek misery and expects it to be enough. He's less open-minded on the topic than the above filmmakers, too: he treats the abstract topic - religion - as if it were a concrete entity and can be handled as such.