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MOUCHETTE

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.

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THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC

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