French filmmaker, Robert Bresson is one of the most prominent filmmakers of the 21st century. His works often reflects the troubles of the commoners in great struggle and hardships to receive an epiphany or an enlightenment that helps the characters to develop and mature (Burch, 2014). His films are outlined by the stern austerity, which prods the viewers to focus their attention on the acting capabilities of the actors of his film. The films of the eminent French filmmaker, Robert Bresson compel the viewers to ponder about the characters and the shades that they represent, which the master director portrays. His films like Mouchette Au Hazard Balthazar, The Diary of a Country Priest, and Pickpocket, reflect a solemn quality and reflect the submissiveness of the protagonists, surrendering to a force that can be internal or external to the character. This write up talks about about his 1967 film, Mouchette.
The 1967 film Mouchette depicts the plight of a young girl who is subject to many hardships and difficulties from a young age. The renowned director portrays searing depiction of human desperation in this film through the character of the protagonist, Mouchette. Mouchette is a young girl, who resides in the provincial France. The protagonist is faced with many difficulties early in her life, like a dying mother, an alcoholic father who is most of the time absent from their lives and a baby brother who needs to be taken care of. The film represents the journey of the character. It shows how the teenage protagonist seeks and finds solace in the daily chores and in the nature (Quandt, 1999). The story of the film is highly inspired from the works of Bernanos. Mouchette, played by Nadine Nortier, embodies the troubles and tribulations of a deprived and unfortunate story of an adolescent peasant girl. This film, too, is emblematic of the austere and minimalistic approach of the filmmaker (Cresswell & Karimova, 2013). Robert Bresson puts more emphasis on the acting abilities of the protagonist in each of his films. This film too, is no exception. The helplessness and the suffering of the protagonist is quaintly and efficiently reflected by the actor (Alvim, 2015). The morose but endearing elegance portrayed by the actor for her character in the film stays with the viewers for a long time. The suffering of Mouchette, it seems, almost works as a catharsis for the audiences. The neglect by her father, facing ostracism at the school and the harsh look and glances of the villagers, all are emblematic of the immense hardships that are faced by humans.
Bresson, in his film, Mouchette, used minimal and sparing camera work. The director uses extreme close up shots to depict the eyes of the character, which emotes the emotions quite deftly (Bresson, 2016). The profound loneliness of the protagonist is brilliantly depicted by the headless shot of people at the bar. The character is in her quest to find company and acceptance; but is rudely denied with violence and betrayal.
To conclude, it can be said that Mouchette presents a poignant portrayal of humanity. The ultimate submissiveness portrayed by the character, makes the audience uncomfortable with an accurate and austere portrayal of practical life.
Alvim, L. B. (2015). Between genres and styles in the films of Robert Bresson. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 5(1), 114.
Bresson, R. (2016). Notes on the Cinematograph. New York Review of Books.
Burch, N. (2014). Theory of film practice. Princeton University Press.
Cresswell, M., & Karimova, Z. (2013). 'Misfortune's Image': The Cinematic Representation of Trauma in Robert Bresson's Mouchette (1967). Film-Philosophy, 17(1), 154-176.
Quandt, J. (1999). Robert Bresson, Cinemath?que Ontario (1st ed., pp. 165-188, 235-274). Toronto: Cinematheque Ontario.