7.7/10
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65 user 104 critic

Pickpocket (1959)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 16 December 1959 (France)
Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.

Director:

Robert Bresson

Writer:

Robert Bresson
Reviews
3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Martin LaSalle ... Michel (as Martin La Salle)
Marika Green Marika Green ... Jeanne
Jean Pélégri Jean Pélégri ... L'inspecteur principal
Dolly Scal Dolly Scal ... La mère
Pierre Leymarie Pierre Leymarie ... Jacques
Kassagi Kassagi ... 1er complice
Pierre Étaix ... 2ème complice
César Gattegno César Gattegno ... Un inspecteur
Edit

Storyline

Michel takes up picking pockets as a hobby, and is arrested almost immediately, giving him the chance to reflect on the morality of crime. After his release, though, his mother dies, and he rejects the support of friends Jeanne and Jacques in favour of returning to pickpocketing (after taking lessons from an expert), because he realises that it's the only way he can express himself... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

16 December 1959 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Pickpocket See more »

Filming Locations:

Gare de Lyon, Paris, France See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,541
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1965)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Quotes

Michel: Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a path I had to take.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Models of 'Pickpocket' (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Fragments from Orchestral suite No. 7 (Suite in G, Overture)
By Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656-1746) (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

The pain of solitude
12 October 2006 | by man1998See all my reviews

  • Do you feel lonely ? -Bresson : very lonely …. Very … but I don't like it to be lone !!


It would be hard for a regular movie-watcher , some one who just watches for fun , to like the movies made by formalist , strictly stylist director , Robert Bresson . But when we are aware of his elaborate work and subtlety , we admire his skill , undoubtedly .

Pickpocket ( 1959 ) , is one his best and most thoughtful films and has a key role in recognizing both Bresson and his works .

Pickpocket is about an alone and desperate writer who think of himself as a superior to the society ; He thinks he is better than others and believes to be in the right of breaking the rules and neglecting the social Contract .

He defines justice for himself as " some people have the privilege to break the laws , willingly " . He feels humiliated to do regular jobs and thus , begins pocket picking .

And from one of the most basic elements of the story , i.e. main character , there is a gap , a distance , between us ( audience ) and the film . In fact , because of non-naturalistic quality of the plot , we can't sympathize with him ; and what makes him even more distant , is the Bresson's personal touch and fond of "deadpan acting and not showing emotions " . Bresson says himself that " if possible , he prefers to utilize an image , a sound , and any other elements ( and metaphors ) instead of actors " . He wants the actors ( as a matter of fact he uses non-professional actors after his second movie ) to act deliberately and be aware of a witness called camera . In other words he wants them " not to act " .

In this movie , the cast and specially the hero are totally flat and expressionless ; even his walking style is sort of flat . But we can't reject his way of acting ( in fact , not acting ) . There is a deep coldness in this style of performance which makes it surprisingly and paradoxically acceptable and fits well in the world of the movie ; particularly , sympathetic face of the main character which increases contributes in this plausibility .

The cinematography , lighting and playing with shadows and lights in this movie is truly delicate and these factors in addition to a cold open and sort of suspension , forms the idea of a thriller movie . Yes ! Suspension is a key factor here ; and not a regular kind of suspension ; but a Bresson type .

Even , some think that sound editing in this movie , decrease the suspension in some scenes and increase it in some other scenes . For example , in some occasions , a sound or noise , inform us of the occurrence of an incident ; or repeating a sound in another scene can mitigate the effect of suspension . Also there is a scene in which the main character is walking anxiously in a crowded sidewalk ; we can not hear the sounds , the street noise and even the cars ; the only sound is his footsteps , which makes suspension .

It is true that use of music is not considerable in this film , but we can't renounce the sound effects here .

Another point is that Bresson never lets the main character to show fear and anxiety ( unlike Hitchcock who loves to do so ) ; instead he depends on images and sounds to supply the fear : sound of footsteps , images of shaking hands and cold faces ( the opening scene ) , door handle turned quietly … and actually anything .

There are some references to" Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment" ; like the basic similarities between the heroes : Michel and Raskolnikov who both tend to commit crimes ; both being lonely and isolated … and even the hole behind Michel's bed he use to hide the stolen valuable goods ( like Dostoyevsky's hero ) . Knowing these references , is a suspension itself ; some kind of fear .

Yes ! most of the times , we don't have music ; the music remains silent , and waits ; ( something unusual in those days of film-making ) ; yet , this small appearance of music , is fitting and timely . There is no such a thing as spare scenes or excess dialog in this movie ; everything is in its right place and for those who can't comprehend the non- naturalistic structure of the film , and can not accept fears , anxiety , and emotional disturbances of this cold hero , Bresson arranges the famous final scene in which the main character redeems through love ; with music !! Now , let us come back to the QA we had at the beginning of this article ; we see Bresson , lonely like the hero of his film ; self-consciously tries to break the rules ( another kind of rules ) ; and has a style of his own … ! … And make us to admire his mastership and loneliness !


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