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L' Argent

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 90.16
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Awful Chain of Events July 12 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is not my favorite Bresson film, but it is one of them. Here Bresson shows every imaginable form of corruption and betrayal in order to display the tainting of innocence.
While I don't remember all the details (and there are many of them), the jist of the film has stayed with me. A level headed, blue collar man stops to get change from a store. He is working, driving his truck, doing nothing wrong. Unfortunately, he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He receives bills from the shop which are counterfeit. Two young men, pressed for cash, had been in earlier and managed to pass the fake bills off as real ones. The point of this scene is that there is no point; this commonplace man does something that all of us have done a million times, and not only is his life destroyed as a result, he plays a significant part in that subsequent destruction. The film could be seen either as a tragic series of events with no sense behind them (again, Bresson puts the stress on meaninglessness) or as the potential criminal hiding within us all.
Sitting at a restaurant, the man pays for a meal with the false money he has been given. The waiter calls him a thief, and the man naturally takes offense, shoving the waiter into a table. These scenes, in which the spirit of revolt overcomes the man's rationality, are shot in still (as on the cover of the video itself), and are intended to represent the pride of innocence when encountered with injustice.
From there, everything goes seriously downhill. In an ironic, terrible twist, the man ends up in prison with one of the young hoodlums who help put him there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary Film Maker Nov. 14 2003
Format:VHS Tape
L'Argent is a subtle film about class warfare. The story is deceptively simple -- it follows the journey of a counterfeit note as it changes hands-- but the examination of social attitudes and hypocrisies is quite thorough.
The forgers are two rich kids, they pass the note on to two middle class shopkeepers, and the shopkeepers pass it on to a working class truck driver. The corruption begins at the top of the economic food chain but the rich never pay for their crimes and so they commit them without even a second thought. The middle class is not as well off and so they are even more moneygrubbing than the untouchable and insulated wealthy and knowingly pass the counterfeit note on to an unsuspecting working class truck driver and then later lie about it in court. Its the working classes that pay for everyones crimes. Bresson is brilliant at keeping things simple. Many of his films are based on short literary works and so his films have an economy to them that is almost breathtaking. In the case of L'Argent Bresson takes a Tolstoy story and pares it down to the basics-- for Bresson the story is about the class struggle and how this system with its built-in hypocrisies and injustices dehumanizes and corrupts us all. The rich are seen to be callous and arrogant because untouchable, the middle class are seen to be petty and selfish, and the working class is seen to be easily victimized--merely fodder for those who happen to be higher on the economic bracket. Bresson does not fool around with character development or atmosphere, he stays focused on the essentails and thus the distilled quality of his films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Last Word from a Giant of Film July 14 2002
Format:VHS Tape
It's amazing so few people know of Bresson's films; he's one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. This film, his last, is brutally efficient in laying out his often bleak view of the world. Based on a Tolstoy story 'Le Faux Billet', it's an exercise in zero sum eliminative logic. The fact that the culprit (a conterfeit bill) is set in motion by playfully malicious youths and then the path is cleared by the greed and malice of their hypocritical parents is a beautiful setup for this dark meditation on the subjugation of human beings to their ruthless god.
The abstract mechnanized backdrop for the titles sequence is a money machine. As is so often the case, behind the deadpan performances of his nonactors (many of whom are superb in this movie), Bresson fetishizes on his subject unto hypnosis; in this film, notice how many times doors, small and large, are slamming, beginning with the automated one closing the first transaction, to the last image of a row of people gawking at the door. This film retains its searing impact through many viewings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Images Of Truth April 8 2002
Format:VHS Tape
L"Argent is a masterpiece by one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, cinematic or otherwise. Bresson brought into art a new way of conveying truth and meaning that was genuinely revolutionary. I would very highly recommend this film, but if you have never seen a Bresson film before then I think it would only be fair to offer some preparatory observations:
Everyone who has ever watched a Bresson film has had the task of coming to terms, one way or another, with a consistent and singular element of his style: many of the shots are seemingly off-center, the camera is aimed in a way that prevents the viewer from being able to fully see what the viewer imagines the whole scene might be. The spotaneous question that arises in the viewer confronted with these shots is, Why? This is uncomfortable, why is Bresson doing this? And because the answer to this question may not be obvious and because no one else seems to ask why, the viewer may decide that Bresson is merely attempting to be different for its own sake. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. This aspect of his style is essential to the meaning of Bresson's films. As you watch this film, L'Argent (and I sincerely hope that you do watch it), simply observe what the actual effect on yourself is of these odd shots. I will tell you what effect they had on me. They were disruptive. Of what? Disruptive of my being able to become deeply immersed in the flow of images, as I ordinarily would while watching a film, so that they could carry me into an artificial, fictional world where the film's story takes place, where I am manipulated by the images more and more into a fantasy condition. In other words, ordinary film watching.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth Overcoming Fiction
I do not have a favorite Bresson film, but it was while watching this film, L'Argent, that I fully understood why I feel that Bresson is the greatest, the most original and... Read more
Published on April 5 2002 by Darkladder
4.0 out of 5 stars Addendum.
Mistaking the trees for the wood, I forgot to mention the most important aspect of Bresson's last masterpiece, 'L'Argent': one of the greatest shots in all cinema. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001 by darragh o'donoghue
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime story as spiritual journey.
There is so much baggage brought by critics to the work of Robert Bresson - his films are dramatisations of severe Catholic doctrines; his style is forbiddingly austere etc. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001 by darragh o'donoghue
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy meets Bresson, and loses
This was, as it turned out, Robert Bresson's final film - he died last year, having spent the better part of the century making only fourteen feature films, most of which are truly... Read more
Published on July 14 2000 by "lexo-2"
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary, thought provoking film!
Paul Hunter's review says just about everything that I could about this film. It is truly an outstanding and thought provoking work. Read more
Published on March 11 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A very subliminal, enigmatic experience.
This was the first Bresson film I saw and was by far the best. The languid and minimilistic style conveyed by Bresson takes some time getting used to, but its understating of the... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 1999
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