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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
3:10 p.m. A Man Escaped
Robert Bresson (France, 1956)

Lecture/Emily Carpenter


(Un condamné à mort s’est échappé). A Man Escaped is pure film existentialism. From a newspaper account by a Resistance leader who escaped from a Nazi prison in Lyon just hours before he was to be executed, Bresson created a film in which the drama is all internal. Minimizing the drama of prison life, paradoxically he maximizes its intensity, concentrating on his character Fontaine’s solitude, and on prison relationships in which a tap on the wall, a whisper in the washroom, are bridges to another’s soul. . . Set to Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, this is a genuinely moving encounter with limits, and the need to transcend them.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Bresson, after the account of André Devigny. Photographed by Léonce-Henry Burel. With François Leterrier, Charles LeClainche, Maurice Beerblock. (97 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Janus Films/Criterion Collection)