Journal d'un curé de campagne

Journal d'un curé de campagne aka Diary of A Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)

A difficult film at first because of the thin thin story told and the lean and unappealing visual treatment of it all. However very influential to many spirituality tormented directors like Andrei Tarkovosky and Martin Scorsese. The lack of actual plot and the long silent reclusion of the almost anti-hero, the priest, his pain and arid living gives you this inspirationnal feeling that faith as to be a necessary suffering. Considered by critics and cinephiles as one of the quintessential films of the Art I personally don't feel like this is one of the greatest film of all time.
Even if I'm not very fond of Bresson's work I think that it is far from being his better contribution to the media. The spiritual depth talked about Journal is painful not only to the main character but also to the viewer who must endure and understand the emptiness of the life of this priest. The messianique figure that Bresson tries to paint here isn't quite up the act as he does with his way better Au hazard Balthazar displaying a donkey as the witness of the avidity and evil of humanity.
Compared to his spirituality tormented peers, Bresson lacks of technique and storytelling. Take Dreyer's Ordet for example, a blissfull masterpiece slow paced while being filled with tremendous technique and mastery. On the other hand, still within scandinavian cinema, Bergman displayed with his trilogy on the silence of God an outstanding comprehension of faith and spirituality. However, it might be Bresson's twisted and ambiguous approach to the whole that can not really be well discerned thorough the spiritual Cinema.


  1. I wasn't blown away by this either, and actually I feel the same way about the Bresson films considered masterpieces by most like AU HASARD BALTHAZAR and MOUCHETTE.

    For me his best works are PICKPOCKET, A MAN ESCAPED, and FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER.

  2. I haven't seen as much as you but the ones I've seen (Au Hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket, Jeanne d'Arc, L'argent) I prefered Pickpocket, L'argent, and Au hasard Balthazar. I'm trying to see A Man Escaped for some time but I just can get my hand on it... Mouchette just don't interest my at all! I'll have to see it someday I guess. I think you have to be in some sort of special mood to fully appreciate Bresson's work.

  3. Mouchette is probably my favorite Bresson. The funny thing is, Au Hasard Balthazar was the one I enjoyed the least. I felt the same way about Balthazar as you feel about this one- Diary of a Country Priest.

    A Man Escaped is definitely good, as was Pickpocket. I was not a fan of L'Argent, but that's just me.

  4. I think that Bresson is the kind of filmmaker that divides cinephiles into groups. It maybe proves that his Cinema is unique and efficient...

  5. I definitely have to see this one again, it's hard the first time around when you are a teenager, but a classic nonetheless!

    Virginie ♥


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