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A Man Escaped (Version française) [Import]
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"This story is true," reads the opening statement of A Man Escaped. "I give it as it is, without embellishment." Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Gestapo during the German occupation, Bresson (himself at one time a German POW) transforms Devigny's daring escape into an ascetic film of documentary detail. Kept in a tiny stone cell with a high window and a thick wooden door, the prisoner (renamed Fontaine in the film) makes himself intimate with his world--every surface of his room, every sound reverberating through the hall, and every detail of the prison's layout that he can absorb in brief sojourns from his cell. Bresson magnifies every detail with insistent close-ups and detailed examinations of every step of Fontaine's plan, from constructing and hiding ropes and hooks to painstakingly carving out an exit in the heavy cell door, and provides a sort of Greek chorus of fellow prisoners. This is Bresson's first film to feature a completely nonprofessional cast drilled to master precise movements and deliver lines without dramatic inflection. The effect is a drama where the slightest gesture carries the weight of a confession. Bresson's films are not for everybody, and this austere picture hardly carries the visceral punch of The Great Escape, but it's a drama of profound power, with a gripping climax that's as absorbing and tense as any high-energy action film. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film describes what it was like to be a political prisoner of the Germans in Paris during WWII. In their efforts to keep down resistance, both the guilty and innocent were arrested, convicted and executed. This is the story of one of those prisoners and his meticulous efforts to find a way to escape, supported and encouraged by his fellow prisoners.
My only complaint is that the horrors of this time were muted by the director. Beatings and executions take place off camera and Germans appear only fleetingly. Perhaps that was because in 1956 the terrors of the Nazi occupation was too recent to dwell on.
Michael W. Perry, editor of Dachau Liberated : The Official Report
This movie is a homage to the best a man can do when he's persuaded for get that goal.
The story is simple. A prisoner makes his first attempt for escape and he's back to prision. But he's convinced with such passion and inner power that his fellow realize about that and help him for his achievement.
Lyrical and surrounded for arresting images, a perfect script , under the direction of the master of masters, Robert Bresson.
What the genius has of beauty is that it looks like the rest of the world and however, nobody looks like him. (Balzac)
This work is one of the supreme treasures of the french cinema and one of the best top five films all around the world ever filmed.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
You might say of this film -- though Bressonian purists might hate me for saying this -- that Bresson uses his anti-Hollywood style to outdo Hollywood style. What I mean is: Bresson is known for revealing only what is absolutely essential, a gesture, an item, two hands engaged in an activity, feet walking. This has the effect of encouraging the viewer to pay attention, but also, because it forces no specific interpretation upon these items, encouraging the viewer to participate in the unfolding of events, and become more than merely a spectator. Hollywood style tends also to eliminate much of what is inessential, but to a much different end: to eliminate moments where the viewer might be distracted and think about something other than the film; the aim is to replace thought with the action on the screen, rather than to stimulate thought. In the case of this film, however, where the subject matter is a prison breakout (standard Hollywood fare) the minimalist style employed by Bresson is able to achieve both a high degree of tension, and a high level of involvement. From the moment the prisoner is in the prison, nothing is shown except what is relevant to the single-minded focus of the prisoner: to escape. In that sense, it is not at the end that the man escapes (as already announced in the title of the film), but from the very beginning he is escaped in the sense that he never accepts the status of imprisonment. The film is able to show this without ever having him discuss the matter with anyone. Remarkable.
I've never seen a film that truly kept me so involved and on the edge of my chair. Bresson lets this story tell itself from the beginning as you watch the main character's hands and feel his hesitation and his desperation. A man so fully human and yet touched and guided by an amazing grace that takes him step by step and leaves him free in the truest sense of the word.
It seems strange to me that Robert Bresson referred to himself as a "Christian atheist", because God is very much present in this film. A
Man Escaped is based on the true story of André Devigny, a member of the French Resistance who managed to break out of prison just
hours before he was to be executed by the Germans. The movie begins with the prisoner, here called Fontaine, being driven to jail. The
men beside him are cuffed, but he is not. He tries to get away when the car stops but is recaptured and beaten about the head.
In prison, Fontaine nearly succumbs to despair, fearful that his fellow Resistance fighters will be rounded up too, but then a stranger
intervenes, a prisoner exercising in the courtyard who promises to get a note to them. Relieved of this concern, Fontaine once again sets
his mind to escape. While other men remain bound either physically or mentally, Fontaine develops a detailed plan of escape and
arduously sets about implementing it.
Bresson presents Fontaine's machinations in painstaking detail. He also confines most of the film to Fontaine's cell, so the viewer too
feels like a captive. Seemingly forgotten by the Germans, Fontaine delays his escape attempt. He believes that two people will be
required to make the attempt work, but is unable to convince anyone else to join him. He is himself afraid to take the leap of faith that it
requires, seemingly waiting for a sign that he should go ahead. The sign comes quite suddenly in the form of his death sentence, his
crimes not forgotten after all.
But now, just when everything seems to have fallen into place, another prisoner is placed in the cell with Fontaine, a very young man
whom he has every reason to distrust as a stool pigeon, planted at the last minute by the Germans. His execution scheduled for the next
day, Fontaine has but two choices : kill the boy or include him in the escape. Once again Fontaine has thrust upon him a matter of faith.
His resolution to this problem and the ensuing escape are exciting stuff. The very sparseness of the film and the way Bresson strips it of
emotion, makes the action, as he intended, speak for itself, and it speaks volumes. But there are also big ideas at work here, the most
refreshing of which, particularly coming from a Frenchman in the 1950s, is that faith and hope matter and that we can take some control
of events through our own actions. The most famous image of the French intellectuals' view of life is the example of Sisyphus, as per
Albert Camus. Sisyphus, a Titan sentenced to eternal punishment for rebelling against the Gods, has to push a boulder up a hill all day,
and at the end of the day, just as he arrives at the top, it rolls back down again. Bresson's film is perhaps best understood as a refutation
of this fatalistic and futile worldview; A Man Escaped suggests that indeed we can escape the fates, can create our own destinies, if only
we have faith and make the effort. The impetus remains with us, even if the ultimate outcome remains in the hands of "The Spirit".
GRADE : A+
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