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France, 1971 (MIFF 1972)

Director: Robert Bresson

After having made The Gentle Creature, in Four Nights of a Dreamer, Bresson once again turns to Dostoevsky &ndash: the script being based on "White Nights", and centering on what Bresson calls Dostoevsky's "notion of the dream overpowering reality".

Bresson switches the 19th Century setting to present-day Paris, amid the hustle and bustle of the Pont Neuf at night.

Marthe, a shy young girl, falls in love with a student who lodges at her mother's house, though she has never seen him and knows him only from the sound of his footsteps, the books he lent to her mother, his voice heard through a door. Obsessed by her impossible attraction, she goes to the Pont Neuf to kill herself.

She is saved by the young painter, Jacques, another dreamer, who pours out his fantasies to his tape recorder. He befriends the girl and, before long, falls in love with her. But Marthe still longs for the student and, when he finally turns up to claim her, she leaves Jacques to pursue his lonely dreams.

”As in ‘Une Femme Douce', Bresson crystallises the nineteenth century story within its incongruously perfect setting &ndash: the drug-store, the cards, the visit to the cinema, with a gangster death scene which emerges not as parody but as an extraordinary intimation from some never &ndash: to &ndash: be made Bressonian thriller. And in a breathtaking shot, a bateau &ndash: mouche glides beneath the bridge, all lights and glass, mysteriously glowing, reality transmuted into a futuristic vision.” Penelope Houston, Sight and Sound

See also...


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The husband of a young girl who has just killed herself relates in a formal, almost detached manner, the strange story of their meeting, marriage and life together. It reveals the situation of a ... More »


Like Bresson's earlier Diary of a Country Priest, this film is based on a novel by Bernanos, but this time the book has been freely adapted. It is the story of an utterly despised and rejected ... More »


For his first film in six years, Robert Bresson has been inspired by a short story by Leo Tolstoy, "The Counterfeit Note". When making a delivery of fuel oil, a young Parisian workman is given a fake ... More »


Robert Bresson's account of the Joan of Arc story, although austere and elliptical as are all his films, remains very close to the written records of the trial held in 1431. ... The film begins ... More »

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