A Man Escaped (1956)
d. Robert Bresson
Criterion Collection #650
Criterion Collection edition released March 26th, 2013
Man it has been a boundary blurring few days in terms of this Criterion Collection project, what with the Criterion Collection uploading all these non-Collection titles to the Hulu Plus channel. I even found one film, the recently released Hitler comedy To Be Or Not To Be, that is uploaded to Hulu Plus but not listed as such on the website, a kind of hidden new release. The labyrinth gets deeper and deeper. I don't want to even talk about the fact that they seem to have uploaded all 26 "Zatochi the Blind Swordsman" films at once. I get anxious just thinking about the prospect of watching those Zatochi films.
I also think it is the proper time to abandon the conceit that I'm only watching three films a week. Who am I kidding with that? Summer is over anyways, so it's not like I have some need to pretend that I'm out on vacation enjoying myself somewhere, as was the case for the last eight August's in a row. Let's get real.
Robert Bresson is interesting because he is the French filmmaker that Truffaut first cited in support of his theory of Auteur cinema. A Man Escaped (1956) was based on a real incident involving the imprisonment of a member of the resistance and his escape from a Gestapo prison in the France of 1943. the film is only indirectly about the war and occupation, however; directly, as with so many of Bresson's films, it is about a human being in isolation, physical as well as spiritual in this case. The inner experience of the protagonist is refined to a pure, concentrated, intense expression. (1)
A Man Escaped is actually the first of the six Bresson films within the Criterion Collection. I enjoyed the solid rigor of the prison escape plot. Throughout the entire film you do not see a single thing that the characters do not, giving A Man Escaped a near theatrical feel. This is good for developing narrative tension, but bad in terms of mise en scene and just general watchability.
(1) This paragraph is a paraphrase/citation from Ellis History of Film, page 297.