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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
3:00 p.m. Mouchette
Robert Bresson (France, 1966)

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe


Special admission prices apply: General admission, $11.50; BAM/PFA members, $7.50; UC Berkeley students, $5.50; Seniors, disabled persons, UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non–UC Berkeley students, and youth 17 and under, $8.50.

Mouchette is a visual study of a state of mind. Based on a book by Georges Bernanos, it has affinities with Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar in its depiction of the limits of quiet suffering and humiliation a living being can endure. In a French village painted in all its charmlessness, fourteen-year-old Mouchette has been denied a childhood by an alcoholic father and a dying mother. Despised and rejected, she observes the adult world from a position of extreme isolation; like the donkey Balthazar, she has no language in which to express her despair. A measure of defiance is brought out in her complicity with the village poacher, Arsène, but he takes cruel advantage of her affection. This final lesson in the callousness of adults informs Mouchette’s first, and last, act of open rebellion, a pure, elegiac enactment of Bresson’s redemptive pessimism.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Bresson, based on the novel Nouvelle histoire de Mouchette by Georges Bernanos. Photographed by Ghislain Cloquet. With Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hébert. (80 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Rialto Pictures)