Cinematography – A feeling

“In my opinion, it’s clear that music is one element that transforms a film. Let me back up a bit: I believe all the elements: image, sound – and “sound” includes sound effects, dialogue, and music – should affect and transform each other. Without transformation, it isn’t art.” – Robert Bresson

An amazing movie by one of the best French directors – Robert Bresson

Our reading, a chapter out of Robert Bresson’s ‘Notes on a Cinematographer’, was very intriguing. It was not one of those assignments you just read through something and get to work. I had to watch a film by him – ‘Au Hasard Balthazar’, one of his most renouned works. I also spent hours online going through others quotes I could find from his book. It was very interesting for me. French Cinema has always been known for the art in the movies. The film had me enraptured as I can truthfully say I have never seen anything like it. Firstly, the protagonist of the film is a donkey! An animal treated inhumanly almost like he doesn’t exist. The entire movie leaves a cold feeling in you. I don’t really know how to put it in words, but it is emotionless in a way where it pulls on your emotions. Everything I read in that chapter was depicted in the movie itself.

To explain who Robert Bresson is, I am just going to use a quote I found in another article by Justin Morrow – “Robert Bresson is French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is the German music.” You can find a link to the article in my references if you wish to know more about him and his work.

Robert Bresson on set

I read a lot of the quotes and I obviously have my favourites while I would beg to differ on a few of them as well. I could go on forever but I have decided to discuss only four here – two from my reading and two I came across online.

“Your film must resemble what you see on shutting your eyes.”  Absolutely. That is the dream, isn’t it. Our course teaches us to research our audience, see what they want. It tells us to research new media and see what the rest of the world is doing. Use new devices and what not. But deep inside, I feel all of us are just dying to show the world what we see. I think that is a great idea in itself.

“If the eye is entirely won, give nothing or almost nothing to the ear. One cannot be the same time all eye and all ear.” This is something I have not thought about in this way, but working in advertising, a rule we followed is, if making a poster don’t just have a headline which says what the art on it does. Say more or hint at more. Sometimes, don’t say anything at all. I think we have become so smart that we don’t need two senses to say the same thing. That is old school. Maybe, new media can just be playing differently with different senses and seeing what we can make someone feel. It’s like sometimes it is the middle of the night, you’re standing out in your balcony. or you’re in a brand new city, and you can hear the music in your head, a music to go with your feelings and emotions. It’s wonderful, more wonderful than real music can ever be.

“Not to play two violins when one is enough.” Simplicity is an art. We have heard that many times. Well, I think it’s true. There is no need for an orchestra when you can win over someone with an acoustic guitar.

Hide the ideas, but so that people find them. The most important will be the most hidden.” This quote I think is my favourite one. I saved it for last because I thought that would give me enough time to think about it. I was wrong, it can be intepreted in many ways. It is the ultimate trick for anyone in the industry and so few have been able to achieve it. There’s a fine line between making an idea obvious and having it lost. For this one, I think it’s great to just think about and leave it at that. There are no tricks or answers!



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