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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...


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 »


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 »


"By far the most punk movie ever made." - Richard Hell, punk legend ... Banned in France for its daring portrayal of alienated youth - and called a masterpiece by the likes of Francois Truffaut - The ... More »


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 »


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 ... More »

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