Film Micrœview #11: Journal d’un curé du campagne (1951)

10.09.2013 § Leave a comment

Journal d'un curé du campagne

there was a lot of this

Classic Bresson — studies of minute details of physical action, voice-over narration throughout, constant spiritual confusion. Maybe not his most compelling struggle, but I appreciated it. The protagonist’s simplicity and lack of restraint, being abused by others around him, I think is a strong stylistic precedent for stuff like Von Trier’s Golden Heart trilogy, non?

Update: thinking back on the movie several days later, I had a flash of insight. The nameless priest protagonist is an un-Jesus! Rather than being born into the most glorious of beginnings, his mother is just a drunk; his life is imbued not with grace but with poison from the start. He dies young like Jesus, having also tried to save people, but only just a single little town, and couldn’t even do that effectively. He got no rising from the dead, in fact his death wasn’t even rendered filmicly, just recounted almost off-handedly over the image of a cross. I admit that I don’t know enough about Christianity to thoroughly understand what was being said between the protagonist and his older next-town-over priest mentor when they were talking about his being born in such conditions in terms of some Bible quotes about Mother Mary, but I would love to have it explained, and suspect that it may confirm my theory here. Though I suppose I should say that he’s really more of a modern Jesus than an un-Jesus, particularly in the sense of Bresson being devoutly religious in the face of his iconoclastic New Wave peers, and much of all that Derrida, Baudrillard, etc. shenanigans going on… I mean, if you look back at the confrontation between the protagonist and the Countess, when he speaks of how a god of the philosophers might be different… I also think back to Girard’s Violence and the Sacred (a similar French work in its defense of the institution of religion) which postulates most religion as a systemized protection man devised against sociological outfall from the trauma of a transcendent collective murder — and here, in modernity, we have the judicial system to deal with that, but now the answer we’re looking for more is “why was my baby taken from me for seemingly no reason.”

Also, New Wave connection: I think 80’s synthpop musicians modeled their hairdos after this guy.


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