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Criterion Collection: Mouchette [DVD] [1967] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Nadine Nortier , Jean-Claude Guilbert , Robert Bresson , Theodor Kotulla    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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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 DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Jan 2007
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000K0YLX2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,314 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



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 wilful 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

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece from Robert Bresson 29 Sep 2001
By Alan Pavelin VINE VOICE
Format:VHS Tape
One of Bresson's two middle-period masterpieces (the other being Au Hasard Balthazar). Based on a Bernanos novel, this is a stunning portrait of a 14-year-old girl, living in rural poverty, who is rejected by the world, whether her family, her schoolmates, or the other villagers. The only person who shows any interest is a boy at the fairground, who brings about Mouchette's only smile of the film, until her father brusquely separates them. As in nearly all his films, Bresson uses non-professional actors ("models"), a very elliptical and sparse style, and particularly stunning monochrome photography. Dramas involving the other characters are going on beneath the surface, which only really emerge at a second viewing. Finally Mouchette finds a kind of redemption in the only way she can. A superlative film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars short and profound 24 Jun 2014
By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER
Mouchette is a particularly sad film, but one that repays close attention. It was the second film Bresson made from a novel by Bernanos, the first being Diary Of A Country Priest that came out 16 years earlier. Over that time he had pared down his style further still, from what was already quite austere. In Mouchette there is no music until right at the end, except as natural background at the funfair. This enables Bresson to get even greater density into the construction of his scenes, so that the passing through a door seems repeatedly to have a symbolic significance we would overlook if there was some other stimulus affecting the emotions. The girl who plays Mouchette is perfectly cast, and she comes across as a relative of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl. She has a remarkable quality of poise in her face that doesn't contradict her feral, uncommunicative nature, which has developed because no one in her entourage has wanted to communicate with her. Her story is that of the failure of love, and you can feel her reaching out to people on occasion, and generous to her baby brother, holding him in tears after she has been raped. These scenes are heartrending, made even more so by the complete lack of self-pity. There is a lot of nature imagery, which is beautiful but cannot make up for the appalling cruelty Mouchette is subjected to. The young man whom she seems to quite like, met at the bumper cars, draws her attention by constantly bashing into her, as if to say this is the only way of communicating she knows. However she smiles and tries to approach him - he is a bit too old for her - after the ride, but her father comes between them and callously slaps her in the face. Read more ›
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bleak film of teenage angst and abuse 11 July 2005
Robert Bresson (1901-1999) began directing in 1934 and made 13 feature films between 1943-1983, the first two during the German Occupation of France. He achieved great critical acclaim, is widely cited by many of the world's leading film makers as one of their major influences, yet his films never achieved great box office popularity. Described as 'uncompromising', Bresson was not prepared to listen to the marketing people or to sacrifice control over his own art - he made the films he wanted to make, not the ones which would earn money.
Bresson is a director who strives for visual impact - the majority of his films were shot in black and white and he probably demonstrates greater visual control in this medium than in his later, colour films. And the visual element can be emphatic - his films are often sparse in their use of dialogue while Bresson makes exaggerated use of natural sound effects (wind, rain, footsteps, creaking boards).
And Bresson uses unknown or amateur actors - no big names, no easy familiarity with the faces on the screen. Bresson wanted his audience to concentrate on the story and its emotions, even if his style might make these enigmatic, if not cryptic. He began as a painter, and often referred to his actors as 'models' - they were there to provide visual images. And his models were stripped of emotion - he didn't want them to portray emotion as a public show, but to exhibit something more transcendent.
Heavily influenced by a Catholic vision of predestination, Bresson avoids concerted effort to explore the psychology of his characters. In many of his films the characters simply accept their fate - they know they are destined to suffer and battle against an illusion of free will.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating depression from Robert Bresson 1 July 2014
Robert Bresson's 1967 masterpiece Mouchette is the second of two adaptations he made of novels by the French Catholic and staunch monarchist writer Georges Bernanos. The first was Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne), a film made in 1951 and considered by many (including Andrei Tarkovsky no less) as the greatest spiritual work ever committed to celluloid. For me that is Bresson's most difficult film and I will come back to a comparison between it and Mouchette when I review it later. For now, I think it more enlightening to draw parallels between Mouchette and its immediate predecessor, Au hasard Balthazar (1966). This was the one and only time in Bresson's career where he made two films in quick succession (securing funds was a perennial problem for him) and similarities between the two are so close that one could be considered a loose reworking of the other.

Both films are set in the French countryside and address the poverty of village life in a direct and accusatory manner that provoked French audiences upon first release. Mouchette in particular caused consternation with its story of a poor teenage girl (the Mouchette of the title) who endures a miserable existence, one which she can escape in the end only by killing herself. Apparently, in the world according to Robert Bresson death is preferable to life in a French village and the outrage caused by the film's release is understandable, especially when the parents of Nadine Nortier (the girl who plays Mouchette) complained long and loud about Bresson's usage of their daughter.

Like the poor donkey Balthazar, Mouchette is forced to negotiate the 7 Stations of the Cross on the way to her Calvary - her final redemption and her attainment of grace.
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