UN CONDANNÉ À MORT S’EST ECHAPPÉ OU LE VENT SOUFFLE OÙ IL VEUT (1958)
A film by Robert Bresson
Cast: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock
English title : A man escaped.
You have to understand one thing about Bresson’s film he filmed it in a basic way. The story is simple. A prisoner who is condemned to death in 1943 in Montluc, a Nazi prison camp in Lyon, inside German-occupied France. He is preparing to escape. It does not get more basic then that.There is no movie stars, special effects, contrived thrills and elevated tension. His film does not have a pleasing audience element he tries to hold people in a hypnotic grip. The character is based on a postwar memoir by André Devigny, who escaped from Montluc on the very day he was scheduled to die. Bresson makes a point to say that he told the story like the author old the story.
Now here it is pay attention to the gesture of the characters, as well as the intonation of their voice. I think that is where David Manet got his own intonation in his film. No one talk like that in real life in the Bresson film well except Bresson. He wanted the actor to talk like he talk. Bresson was a difficult but brilliant director to work with. He will do 50 takes and he will not give the actor their motivation , one actor recall that he did a scene 80 times before Bresson said “finally you got it.” he wanted the actor to find his way in. Fontaine’s cell is small so the film will be a little bit claustrophobic and it is repetitive with different angles. The wall and door are thick and the wall outside are tall plus the guard are outside. He is in solitary confinement most of the day, although sometimes he can tap out messages in a code, or secretly exchange notes during washing-up time. During the period of his stay a prisoner is shot trying to escape. Now I got to say something here Bresson didn’t want actors to look at each other when they deliver their dialogue only sometimes. Like I said you have to pay attention to this film. There is no beauty shot here it is dull, you will hear shot being fired you will know that an other prisoner is shot but you will not see it.There is no distraction here. There is real sound however. The train passing by etc…Pay attention to that. The face expression of the actor are always the same, like I said you have to pay attention. No effects here. Nothing to distract you from the story. You don’t see much the Nazi guards, you will hear them telling to shut up to the prisoners. You will see how resourceful is Fountain is in oder to escape. The story is also mostly narrated by Fontaine. He is a member of the resistance who got caught for espionage and attempt to assassinate a bunch of Germans. The thing is that Bresson did not like others films than its own I don’t know why but that’s the way it is even if it was a good film. Melville and Bresson were members of the resistance and Bresson was imprisoned by the Nazis. Do not miss this film.