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France, 1967 (MIFF 1968, Programme 9)

Director: Robert Bresson

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 person: a fourteen-year-old semi-literate girl who is nothing but a drudge in an impoverished alcoholic peasant family. Humiliated and bereft of love, the film tells of the Calvary of the last twenty-four hours of her life.

There is no extraneous sentiment and no attempt at explanation. Events follow one another with inevitability as Mouchette makes her way almost unswervingly towards her destiny. This deceptively simple film is a disturbing, poignant vehicle, but Bresson treats it all with such grace that, at the end, Mouchette's death is more like an epiphany than an annihilation. Backed by the Monteverdi Magnificat, this scene is also a moment of exaltation and one of the great ones of cinema.

See also...


Our civilization is moving towards its end, and fast - this is one possible message of Bresson's film. ... Charles, a sensitive young man, wanders about in Paris, lost and desperate: there is no ... 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 »


The burden of humanity is placed on the shoulders and into the very being of one of God's forgotten creatures in Bresson's masterpiece, the ultimate animal film. ... Baptised by three children and ... More »


The donkey, always regarded as an important creature of nature, is the central figure of this film. One is adopted as a pet and christened Balthazar by childhood sweethearts Marie and Jacques, in a ... 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 »


Bresson's A Man Escaped, like The Trial of Joan of Arc, is closely based on factual records. Yet it is far from being a documentary. 'I would like to show this miracle', Bresson explains. 'An ... More »

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