For Reel


Les Anges du Péché (1943)
January 31, 2012, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Bresson

Released under German-occupied France, Les Anges du Péché was Robert Bresson’s first film and, along with Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, an endeavor in which he uncharacteristically uses professional actors and conventional narrative form. Renée Faure is memorable as Anne-Marie, a nun who, for reasons unexplained, joins a convent that rehabilitates women convicts. The much-discussed conclusion of the picture involves an apparent spiritual and psychological transference between the dying Anne-Marie and Thérèse, the woman whom Anne-Marie had fixated her efforts on. Thérèse, who has thanklessly treated her caretaker as if having been harassed, is so touched by Anne-Marie’s profound faith as she nears death that she finally chooses to seek redemption. After the lengthy shot-reverse-shot dialogue sequence that occurs at the deathbed (which is a weak point in the film and, fittingly, the kind of scene that Bresson would learn to avoid all together), the camera pulls back into an overhead perspective that suggests the presence of higher being – alluding to Anne-Marie’s own passing as much as it does Thérèse’s enlightenment. As he would do again in Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, Bresson here suggests the elasticity of man – that is, one’s ability to transcend their own nihilistic predilections when prompted by both natural and supernatural forces. In his first film, it is evident that Bresson had already established a few of his key thematic concerns, and as his career progressed he only better grasped the means of how to cinematically convey them to an audience.


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