Mouchette is a young girl living in the country. Her mother is dying and her father does not take care of her. Mouchette remains silent in the face of the humiliations she undergoes. One ... See full summary »
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Sylvie Van den Elsen,
Charles drifts through politics, religion and psychoanalysis, rejecting them all. Once he realises the depth of his disgust with the moral and physical decline of the society he lives in, ... See full summary »
Henri de Maublanc
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Laura Duke Condominas,
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Guillaume des Forêts,
Bresson's first film is, totally uncharacteristically, a slapstick comedy, centred around two neighbouring republics, Crogandia and Miremia, and the various disasters that befall the ... See full summary »
Mouchette is a young girl living in the country. Her mother is dying and her father does not take care of her. Mouchette remains silent in the face of the humiliations she undergoes. One night in a wood, she meets Arsene, the village poacher, who thinks he has just killed the local policeman. He tries to use Mouchette to build an alibi. Written by
It seems entirely appropriate that the film opens with the metaphor of birds being snared as this seems to apply not only to Mouchette's life, but to Bresson's approach to the viewer as well.
For what, after all, is the director attempting to do here? Are we really to regard this as an unblinking gaze into the life of an abused, outcast girl? If so, why is Bresson so intent on excluding even the most fleeting moments of joy (or at least humor) that enter even the darkest of lives (I believe a philosopher once said "alas, joy too must have its day")? It is pretty telling that the one scene involving happiness for Mouchette is the most monotonous and lifeless in the picture (the bumper cars). Not only are we not allowed to experience her joy, but Bresson is careful to distance us from the real experience of her pain as well. This is done by the use of "gestures" (particularly prominent in Bresson's later films) that "signify" a character's experience rather than giving us the person's individualized emotional and visceral reactions to events. Thus the assault on Mouchette is shown in a distant, almost pantomimed manner, her relationship with her father is suggested by dropping coins in his hand, a disembodied hand slapping her face, etc. So, are we really to identify with Mouchette, to feel her pain, seeing how her experience of life intersects with our own in only the most symbolic, muted fashion? Is this really "compassion" and is this really Bresson's purpose?
Or is Mouchette a figure that Bresson uses (and dehumanizes), as literally every character in the movie uses her, to achieve other purposes? In this case the selling of a particular view of the world. One which sees the world as a snare, both in its joy and its pain, that is "saved" only by the (symbolic) suffering of the innocent, and transcended/transformed only by death. In other words a viewpoint that that advocates looking beyond (or turning away from)life to find "transcendent" truths. A view based on judgement rather than acceptance. And if this is "the truth" why must so much of what we experience as truth (such as joy, intimacy, occasional feelings of "oneness" with the world) be so forcibly excluded? Are these all really illusions, the world simply a snare? And without acceptance of ALL of Mouchette's reality can she,or any of us, really be redeemed?
Yes, Bresson is a meticulous, incisive, and occasionally powerful filmaker. But is he really honest? Are there some TRUTHS that he can't face (and so desperately restricts his view). In MOUCHETTE we are a little more aware of the puppeteer's strings than usual. 7 out of 10.
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