Book Review: Two new books explore the artistry of a film master

“One should not use the camera as if it were a broom.”
—Robert Bresson, Notes On The Cinematograph

Notes On The Cinematograph, a collection of epigrams and incomplete sentences by the iconoclastic French filmmaker Robert Bresson, is the shortest of the essential film books, though it isn’t meant to be breezed through. Instead, this small and curious volume, in which every page is about two-thirds white space, exists to be consulted; its closest analogue is Oblique Strategies, the card deck of randomized creative instructions created by musician-producer Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt. An original and singular figure, Bresson sought a truer form of narrative film, in the process eliminating everything he considered theatrical or extraneous. His many masterpieces (including Au Hasard Balthazar, Diary Of A Country Priest, A Man Escaped, and L’Argent) are animated by a vision of cinema concerned with absolute fundamentals of composition, editing, and …

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