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L'argent (1983) More at IMDbPro »

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L'argent -- An innocent turns to crime after coming into possession of a counterfeit 500 Franc note.


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Robert Bresson (writer)
Leo Tolstoy (short story "Faux billet")
View company contact information for L'argent on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 May 1983 (France) See more »
A forged 500-franc note is cynically passed from person to person and shop to shop, until it falls into... See more » | Add synopsis »
3 wins & 2 nominations See more »
(11 articles)
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User Reviews:
The "idea" of a film See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Directed by
Robert Bresson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Robert Bresson  writer
Leo Tolstoy  short story "Faux billet" (as Tolstoï)

Produced by
Antoine Gannagé .... executive producer
Jean-Marc Henchoz .... producer
Daniel Toscan du Plantier .... producer
Cinematography by
Pasqualino De Santis 
Emmanuel Machuel 
Film Editing by
Jean-François Naudon 
Production Design by
Pierre Guffroy 
Costume Design by
Monique Dury 
Production Management
Richard Dupuy .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Olivier Péray .... first assistant director
Sound Department
Jean-Marc Lentretien .... sound mix technician
Jacques Maumont .... sound mixer
Jean-Louis Ughetto .... sound engineer
Luc Yersin .... sound engineer
Camera and Electrical Department
Michel Abramowicz .... first assistant camera
Music Department
Johann Sebastian Bach .... composer: additional music
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
85 min | Argentina:87 min (Mar del Plata Film Festival)
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Last film directed by Robert Bresson.See more »
Yvon Targe:[to the guy who sent him to jail] You have me on your conscience. You have to answer for that now.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Life Itself (2014)See more »


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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful.
The "idea" of a film, 14 January 2008

On a strictly formalist level, Robert Bresson's swan song, "L'Argent" (1983, France;which directly translates to "Money"), can be regarded as Pure Cinema. That is to say, no emotions, no actions, no music, none of such "artificiality" that has customarily been associated with cinema. At best, the film (and for that matter, Bresson's entire filmography) can be described as a Cinema of Ideology.

What is strictly at work here is the "idea" of how money can corrupt and destroy the human spirit. Surely, this can be derived from the Biblical concept of "money being the root of all evil" (Bresson's Christian upbringing being almost always discernible in his films). But this is not to regard this essential commodity per se as the reason for all things evil. Rather, at least in the film's context, it's a particularly forged 500-franc note that set in motion a series of unpleasant and unjust events, with this quiet and unassuming gas station attendant named Yvon Targe at the (abysmal) center.

As suggested from the preceding paragraphs, what concerns Bresson here is not the characters themselves or the milieu they are in (the actuality), as let's say the Italian Neo-Realism would have it, but the idea of how an unscrupulous act can be the cause of another person's undoing. This is humanism in its abstraction. Thus, watching the implications and complications of the counterfeit 500-franc bill upon the lives of the characters--or upon the life of Yvon--is like watching statuesque figures ("15th-century Christian icons", as some would politely have it) being callously manipulated by their blind fate, perennially condemned to be dragged along by the turning of its wheels.

And it is Bresson himself who is the prime mover of this "wheel". In his hands, the "force" of this fate is of such a cold, detached, unforgivably rational quality that one can unfailingly have the feeling of not being able to bear it all. From the initial simple act of the two schoolboys having to knowingly spend the counterfeit money at a photography shop, to the final harrowing act of Yvon having to commit a terrible deed in the name of and as a vengeance against the money (in a figurative sense), one senses Bresson as having the big hand in this cause-and-effect chain of events.

If one gets such a feeling, it's because the filmmaker (already 82 at that time) intended it to be so. As "L'Argent" is a specimen of Bresson's own brand of Pure Cinema, he absolutely wants his exacting vision and conception to be seen and felt in each and every scene, unhampered and uncluttered by the "standard" cinematic manipulations of stylized dialogue, fancy emotions, accompanying soundtrack and contrived actions. In this specific cinematic world, the filmmaker is the cinematic god himself whose fuel for his performers (non-professional at that) is mainly his idea of how cinema should be.

(In reference to one of his films, a reviewer noted that it is Bresson himself who is assuming the different characters in the film. Curiously, the above-noted film elements are what define, not in a derogative way though, Bresson's introductory feature film, "The Ladies of Bois du Bologne".)

This, in effect, gives an entirely purist level to the filmic conception of what it means to be an auteur, formally introduced to movie lexicon by the French New Wave, as pioneered by Jean-Luc Godard. "Purist", in that, whereas the New Wave pioneers can still "play" upon the above-mentioned filmic artificialities, Bresson the auteur is no different from being a sculptor or a painter or even a novelist. It's his own soul that seeps through his work. The product is distinguished by the singularity of its maker's personality.

What makes this singularly cold, clinical method even more pronounced is how Bresson's characters always find themselves drawn into the vortex of some kind of moral and/or spiritual crisis. The intellectual thief in "Pickpocket", the desolate young wife in "A Gentle Woman", the abused teenage girl in "Mouchette", the self-destructive youth in "The Devil, Probably", the contemplative priest in "Diary of a Country Priest", and now the quiet simpleton-turned-morally bankrupt murderer in "L'Argent". Bresson's rigorous and steely formalist cinema should just be the perfect stage for the dark night of his characters' souls. Grace is attained not without some form of sacrifice and damnation of the soul.

It is this ideology that fills the mold of this filmmaker's astonishing pure art. Unrelentingly dark and morbid, perhaps, but a flickering light of salvation can still be seen through it all.

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