About the book
The French filmmaker Robert Bresson (1901-99) has a special position in European film history and his little book "Notes on the cinematographer" from 1975 has had a great influence on the film media's greatest artists and on the film theory in general.
Bresson's campaign for a new type of film is hard to ignore. The Cinematographer's Notes has been translated into all major languages and has been chosen as the second most important film of all time by the leading British film magazine Sight and Sound. The Cinematographer's Notes is a collection of defiant aphorisms that in their polemic, radical style, both offer a crucial key to understanding Bresson's own films, and represent one of film's great and school-building theories of vivid images.
The publishing house Antipyrine now presents the first Danish translation of Bresson's canonizing book along with a translation of Sontag's essay on Bresson: 'Spiritual style in Robert Bresson's film'. The translation is made by film writer Emil Leth Meilvang.
Emil Leth Meilvang is a PhD fellow in Art History at the University of Oslo. He is the founder and editor of the film magazine Krystalbilder and edits the book series Øjets bibliotek (publishing house Antipyrine), which publishes texts on film, theory and image politics. He has published academic and cultural criticism in a number of Scandinavian and international journals.
About the film
Robert Bresson's own experience as a German prisoner of war at the beginning of World War II is the starting point A doomed to death has escaped (1956). The story itself is built around the real story of a French lieutenant named André Devigny who sat in the Gestapo-controlled Montluc prison in Lyon where the film is also recorded. Devigny is planning his escape, but day he is sentenced to death, a new prisoner moves into the cell. Is he trustworthy with Devigny's plan?
Bresson tells the story in a precise pace that puts the spectator in the prisoner's place. Each scene plays out in something reminiscent of real time. The real Devigny was a consultant on the movie and allowed Bresson to use the ropes and hooks he had used himself. From this movie on, Bresson worked his entire his career with non-professional actors and insisted on a de-dramatized style of play.