That humanity is so cold that it won't help Umberto, who worked all his life, raise even a little money to retain his lodgings, but a fox terrier can unconditionally support him, is a theme that resonates even in contemporary times. We do not feel like we are watching a crafted film, on the contrary, we feel we are intimately involved in Umberto's struggle, and continuing disappointment. Yet, the camera is not his friend -- not in the sense that he doesn't photography well, but that there is an air of being aloof -- more, we find, of not knowing how to react than not wanting to react.
Put into cultural context, the anti-generational (pensioner vs. landlady) in a country trying to forget the war, but reminded of it whenever the see an old man, the film moves the audience in many ways. Still, we look around, almost 50 years later and we still have not decided that older people have value -- and we still turn to canine companions for unconditional love.
Pickpocket, (1959). Directed by Robert Bresson, Produced by Agnes Delahaie, 76 minutes, French, B/W.
Pickpocket was the first film French Director Robert Bresson wrote as a screenplay rather than an adaptation from an existing text -- thus, truly made for the screen. The protagonist's...
Essentially, the title character Michele goes to horserace and steals money. Arrested but not detained, he runs into numerous charters who either steal from him, teach him to steal, or allow themselves to be victimized.
The plot is less important, it seems, to Bresson, than the narration, which dominates the film, leading the audience through a "way of thinking" rather than allowing them to savor the moment, the scenery, or the unique dialog. The movie is also a morality play, much like Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment or most of the Shakespearean plays; Michel believing that he is in need of money, has the means to get it, and therefore -- deserves it. This is reflected, too, in Bresson's direction -- a series of short shots that focus on character rather than cinematography. Similarly, the mature nature of the theme is shown in the way there is visual rhythm within the piece, but very little creative camera work -- possibly to help the audience feel the tension and sense of urgency within the film -- almost furtive movements from place to place; eye-to-eye; anxious to an extreme at times.
Crisp, C. "Work Practices and Stylistic Change," in the Classic French Cinema. Indiana University Press, 1993.
Ebert, R. "Pickpocket," RogerEbert.Com -- the Chicago Sun Times; July 6, 1997. Cited
Fava, C. And a. Vigano. The Films of Frederico Fellini. Citadel Press, 1990.
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