Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de champagne) by Robert Bresson (1951, France) is a film that is pretty much base on a novel with the same name, written by Georges Bernanos. It’s said to be one of the 2 greatest Catholic films, along with Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”
The film analyzed religions and spiritual beliefs. I would highly recommend those who are interested in religious films to catch this film! The priest in the film is plagued by a spiritual and physical turmoil from which he can’t extricate himself. (Slant Magazine)
It is also a film about staying strong and true to yourself despite the circumstances you face in life. The film also touches on death similarity to Godard’s Breathless. I feel that these two movies are opposites. In Breathless, it was about running away however for Diary of a Country Priest, it is about facing the reality.
Robert Bresson aim was not using superficial way to please his audiences but to slowly unfold the story itself and pierce deeply, to bring out the human nature and the indifference of the world. He uses lots of voice-over; compare to the dialogue itself, to shows what the priest himself was feeling/thinking at that very moment. Fades in and out, to jumps from day to day and from scenes to scenes, fades transitions work very well in slow pace films to give the audience the “feel of the human nature and brings out the emotion”.
In the story, it shows a weak young priest, who was not welcomed by the people in his new parish; criticized by his fellow colleagues and who was also been frame by having rumors of him using harsh words to torment the Countess to her death, when he was just trying to resume her communion with God. There was so much emotion in the film and every emotion slowly unfolds by itself, one after another.
The film was a financial success, which established Bresson’s international reputation as a major film director, one film critic (Andre Bazin) wrote an entire essay about the film and calls it masterpiece “because of its power to stir the emotions, rather than the intelligence.”
Throughout the whole entire film, the priest (Claude Laydu), only smile for once and it was the time which he leaves for the city in search of a doctor due to his illness, which turns out to be stomach cancer.
“Diary of a Country Priest is a film about imprisonment” said by online critic Frédéric Bonnaud.
As the priest (Claude Laydu), carries out the duties of his ministry, he tries to link with the local population. But he failed to do so; turned out he became transparent to the eyes of his flock.
In this film, Robert Bresson uses Iris shot in which a black circle closes to end a scene, and revers to start up another. He wants to bring out the human nature and by doing so makes this film looks like a human eye opens and closes.
“My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.” -Robert Bresson
This quote by Robert Bresson, tells us how much he values emotions in his films, he never uses professional actors but instead chooses actors for their intense facial asceticism. Which shows exactly what he means by “ . . . placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.”
In the film, Robert Bresson shows a variety of human emotions like crying, sadness, lost, depression and joy, all in one film.
“Charles Looi is a young crazy producer and script writer, which trying to find his place in the filming industry.
Inspired by director like “Steven Spielberg” and movies like “The Last Samurai”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Tears of the Sun” and “Hachiko”
He strives to inspire others as much as how he got inspired by others too.”
– Ebert, Roger. “www.rogerebert.com, reviews great-movie-diary-of-a-country-priest-1951”
13 April. 2011. [Accessed: 18 Jun 2013].
– Bonnaud, Frédéric. “www.criterion.com 313-diary-of-a-country-priest”
02 February. 2004. [Accessed: 18 Jun 2013].
– En.wikipedia.org, 1951 Diary of a country priest – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
[online] Available at:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary_of_a_Country_Priest
[Accessed: 18 Jun 2013].
– En.wikipedia.org. 1901. Robert Bresson – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
[online] Available at:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bresson#About_Robert_Bresson
[Accessed: 19 Jun 2013].
Slant Magazine. 2011. Diary of a Country Priest | Film Review | Slant Magazine. [online] Available at: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/diary-of-a-country-priest/5295 [Accessed: 8 Jul 2013].