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June 09, 2008


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Glenn, this is a little off topic, but since you raise the issue of knowing French, have you had the chance to read Anne Wiazemsky's memoir, "Jeune Fille"? It's about the summer she was 17 and acted in Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthasar." This is such a wonderful book that I just had to tell somebody about it, and it includes the best unwanted-commentary episode I've ever heard of:

Bresson, having chosen her for his lead, picks her up at home and takes her to a theater where they're showing his Joan of Arc film. They go in, sit together, and he proceeds to chatter away to her: "notice this, watch how she delivers this line," etc., etc. The other people in the theater get angry and start shushing him, because of course they have no idea who he is, and he gets angry right back at them. But he does quiet down. And soon he begins caressing Anne's arm, then her neck, then her cheek... And just when she's beginning to get really uncomfortable, he notices something on the screen: "Oh! Now look closely at this, because . . ." And the shushing starts all over again.

I highly recommend the book to anybody who can read French and loves Bresson (and at this site, I'm guessing the percentage of such folks is higher than the norm). Besides all the comedy, it's a gorgeous coming of age story.

Glenn Kenny

For anything beyond intertitles in a silent film, I'm going to have to do some serious brushing up. I have heard of Anna W.'s book—it sounds wonderful!

Stephen Bowie

Is the transfer really that pixillated or is that just the framegrabs?

Glenn Kenny

It's more the fact that the camera almost never stays still throughout the film. The pixelly/blurry quality comes with the camera movement; and, as there's barely a still moment in the film, a screen grab will reflect that. (It took me quite a while to get an acceptable version of the shot with which I open the post.) Even a relatively stationary shot, like the above one of the Madonna-anticipating Helm, has an out-of-focus background...

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