A Man Escaped

François Leterrier in A Man Escaped (dir. Robert Bresson, 1956).

If it sometimes feels a little too much like an academic exercise in minimalist technique, it's nevertheless gripping. Leterrier's bloodied white shirt gets grimier and grimier as the film goes on, bringing home to the viewer the physical purgatory of his situation. This sense of soul-smothering limbo is further heightened by the near-absence of music, an absence occasionally interrupted by inexplicable bursts of Mozart. There is some talk of scripture and the church among the prisoners, but unlike some viewers, it's hard for me to see the film as "spiritual" in its focus; it is too insistent upon its exploration of material process and suppression of personal emotion. I suppose that is one way of conceptualizing prayer.

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