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Mouchette (Criterion Collection)

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hebert, Jean Vimenet
  • Directors: Robert Bresson, Theodor Kotulla
  • Writers: Robert Bresson, Georges Bernanos
  • Producers: Anatole Dauman
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Jan. 16 2007
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000K0YLX2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,510 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description


Perhaps the most accessible of Robert Bresson's films, this story of a 14-year-old schoolgirl at the mercy of the world around her is like a melodrama stripped of flourish. Mouchette is an angry adolescent in the French provinces, the daughter of a drunken bootlegger and a dying, bedridden mother, a pariah in school and a figure of village gossip. She rebels in typically adolescent ways, lobbing mud at teasing classmates and defying wagging tongues with a willful stare, but her deep pain and loneliness pour from her hollow, sad eyes. There's no sentimentality in Bresson's portrait of village life, but for a few brief moments the film explodes with energy and emotion. Mouchette rides the bumper cars at a local fair, flirting with a young boy in loving bumps and deliberate rams, and her dour expression flowers in a smile as the fairground speakers blare a rock & roll tune... until her father's heavy hand slaps her back to reality. It's a moment unlike any other in a Bresson film, a joyous reprieve from the monotony of her life, but if the rest of her existence is glum and hopeless, the film is unexpectedly beautiful. The style is often fragmented--the film opens on a stunning play of hands, feet, and spying eyes as poacher and police both wait for their prey--but the beauty of the forests and meadows creates an idyllic naturalism that leavens Bresson's harsh portrait of the human condition. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: VHS Tape
This superb film is one of the most moving examples not only of the genuine spiritual quality of Bresson's work, but also of the unique beauty of the amazing 'flat' images that Bresson created with a 50mm lens. The first scene alone, with the two rival men spying on each other, is worth the price of the cassette. But there is so much more to come.
This film has a lovely naturalistic surface feel to it, but as with all of Bresson's work, we are really watching a supernatural reality. As the unhappy story of the poor, teenage, village girl,Mouchette, unfolds, this naturalism becommes more and more haunted by the energy of the dark spiritual condition of the people that surround her. This condition is as horrid and nightmarish as a Bosch painting of hell, but of course Bresson never uses anything other than the most ordinary naturalistic images. This dark environment drives Mouchette to the point where she chooses to take her own life. But the extended scene of Mouchette's suicide is, by the simplest of means, made so incredibly moving and disarming in its innocence that, even if you can not make sense of it, you can not fail to feel that you have witnessed a spiritual event. No one but Robert Bresson could have achieved this. Please, even if you do not like my review, watch this film by one of the few true geniuses of cinematic art.
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The first scene is of a bird caught in a snare fluttering madly to escape, then a hand rescues the bird and lets it free.
Bresson depicts the utter malice than can lay behind a rural community to the abject meanness of poverty.

Asked to sing along in school, her voice was pretty until she hit the high notes and then she was ostracized by her teacher. What was there ever in her life to sing about? Altho at home, doing her chores her voice shines with sweetness

And her only moment of joy on the amusement park car flirting with possibly the only smile in her life, taken away in exchange for a night with a poacher.

It's amazing how her everyday face is a frown, except when she is tending to her dying mother when her face is beautifically transformed to absolute love and adoration.

And I don't believe Bresson asks you to feel sorry for her. He is just showing us.
Mouchette finally needs to confess something to her mother, possibly the only time she has asked for help or advice but at that moment , her mother dies.
That day, an old lady in town gives mouchette a shroud for her mother and a beautiful dress, the kind you might wear to confirmation or a baptism. She has had only had tattered rags and ill fitting clunky shoes all her life.
Altho my description may sound melodramatic, the movie is not.It doesn't try to play on your emotions.
The last scene is haunting and unforgettable.
This is a most beautiful movie.
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I'd seen a bunch of Bresson films before I ever heard of Mouchette, and had always regarded him as the director who, while I wouldn't necessarily want to watch his films to the exclusion of anyone else's, speaks to what's best in me; Bresson's work has an uncompromising directness that no other film-maker has ever matched, in my experience. Watching his films, you feel that something is being imparted to you that you needed to know; in this respect, he's utterly unlike the vast majority of directors, who seek merely to provide diversion and laffs. His influence on Scorsese, Fassbinder and Kaurismaki is undeniable, and Paul Schrader has blatantly ripped him off on more than one occasion (though we forgive Schrader because he is himself such a good director).
Mouchette is not the most famous of Bresson's films but it's one of the best I've seen - though admittedly this is misleading, as most of Bresson's films after the late 40s are masterpieces. Mouchette's life is almost unrelentingly awful; her mother is dying, and most of her verbal contact with Mouchette consists of orders to look after the baby and get her some more gin; her father takes whatever money she earns, and her brother never says anything at all. She lives in a grotty village in a totally unattractive-looking part of Provence, where the local boys have nothing better to do than drop their pants in her direction, and where her sole recreation is throwing mud at her schoolmates. Nadine Nortier, one of a string of non-professional actors to be burdened with carrying a Bresson movie, is stunning as the teenaged Mouchette. Few cinematic leading ladies have been so utterly unglamorous.
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Robert Bresson is a great film maker. He influenced all those who followed him (even though no one could truly imitate Bresson), and he changed the way we viewed culture before him. A modest artist perhaps, but one whose work blew open doors that had remained shut. He dedicate himself to themes film rarely dealt with: suicide, religion, rape. MOUCHETTE deals with all three. Too often described as a Jensenist -- and Bresson himself encouraged such a qualification, Bresson is in fact a neo-Baroque film maker. His worldview is dark, yet never bleak. Mouchette kills herself yes, still Bresson makes her a saint. Not a martyr but a modern saint. Opposites collide all the time in this film where syntheses never come easy (if they come at all). Bresson is one of the few film makers one we recognize immediately: one can tell a Bresson image the same way one recognizes a musical score by Mozart. This is the sign of genius. Bresson created his medium, it did not create him. - Antonio D'Alfonso (1 March 2000).
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