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Criterion Coll: Diary of Country Priest [DVD] [1951] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

Region 1 encoding. (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the UK [Region 2]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000127IF2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,964 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Diary Of A Country Priest is one of Bresson's most powerful films. For me, the nameless priest is a beacon of sincerity and humility. He has the gentleness of the lamb (Zurbaran ... ), and much compassion. Bresson focuses only on what is essential in his dealings with others, and on his solitude in his first parish where nobody wants him. Everything is filtered through a fairly small number of characters, usually seen individually, and the community seems diffuse, with no hub or sense of mutual concern. His superior, the curé de Torcy, doesn't even live there, nor possibly does the doctor, Delbende. The main character's comings and goings, often covering the same ground on his way to the chateau, for instance, are set to a Brucknerian score that seems quite lavish in relation to the rest of the film, and to many of Bresson's other films, where music tends to be used sparingly. Here it carries the sense of the priest's inner self and gives it outward expression, a counterpoint to his diary entries which we both see and hear in his voice. All his exchanges with others tend to be quite terse. The one with the Countess has a rigour that is quite exhilarating, really - almost expansive within its strict terms - as it is not an easy spirituality that is being explored, and thus all phonyness is avoided. Rather, it speaks of an elevation of the soul through arduousness, triumphing even over his physical agony at the end, from which the camera discreetly turns away. Nevertheless, it is a very moving conclusion. The sobriety of the acting is striking, with Claude Laydu making an indelible impression as the hapless man of God, accepting the inevitable with altruism and selflessness.
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Format: DVD
"Diary of a country priest" (1951), directed by Robert Bresson and based on a well-known novel by Georges Bernanos, is a beautiful masterpiece in black and white. Regarding this film, Bresson said that "(...) I wasn't faithful to the style of Bernanos, and I omitted details which I disliked. But I was faithful to the spirit of the book and to what it inspired in me as I read it".

This film recounts the spiritual journey of a new priest (played by Claude Laydu) that has to face unfriendly people in his first parish at the same time he suffers from ill health and doubts regarding his faith. The story is told mainly thanks to journal entries, something that allows the spectator to be privy to the priest's inner thoughts, and struggle with him when he faces different kinds of problems.

As you can probably imagine, it is not easy to watch this film. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend it, as Bresson manages to capture the anguish and fierceness of the battle played in this young man's heart, and show us that interior drama in excruciating detail.

Belen Alcat
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Format: DVD
Robert Bresson's 1950 masterpiece Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne) is a film which has achieved legendary status largely due to many (Andrei Tarkovsky and Martin Scorsese among them) claiming it to be an important and inspiring contribution to the religious discourse of our time. It was Bresson's third feature and the one that defines the way his future films will be. Texturally, this is the first of two adaptations of the Catholic monarchist writer Georges Bernanos (the second will be Mouchette) and the first of three consecutive films which will be narrated in a first person voice-over. The narratives of A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959) and this one are all the stories of one man's spiritual odyssey through doubt and failure to ultimate redemptive grace told as written (or as written later) so as to give us a profound look into the character's soul. Visually, the film announces the stark, spare austerity which will be a Bresson trademark from hereon in. The cinematographer Léonce-Henri Burel shot all the films from here through to The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) and there is a certain uniformity of look though Bresson does temper his visual treatment according to his material - he always saw himself as a `cinematographer' rather than a `director' and each film was the start of a new investigation for him. Nevertheless, the grey mundane focus on `process' rather than `result' is omnipresent with seemingly bizarre framing and an eschewing of grand spectacle well to the fore. In relation to this, this film also announces the rejection of professionals in favor of amateur `models'. The only professional actor in the film is Rachel Bérendt who plays the countess.Read more ›
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Robert Bresson's story of a young and inexperienced priest trying to serve God and the villagers of Ambricourt could easily be called, by a smart ass, Diary of a Country Sad Sack. This young man is without social skills, is innocent and tends to the absolute, and finds himself without friends, openly made fun of, and struggling to find the purpose of what he does when no one wants him. We learn he is seriously ill. Bresson films him luminously with a strong hint of Jesus in some scenes.

For many of faith this movie might be too frustrating, even with a sort of redemptive end. For many like me, the movie might not be all that involving if it weren't for Robert Bresson's immense talent as a moviemaker. Even so, the movie is filled with Bresson's words that seem to carry great freight but may sound better than they mean, whatever it is they mean. "Our hidden sins poison the air that others breathe." "The simplest tasks are by no means the easiest." "He [God] is not the master of love. He is love itself. If you would love, don't place yourself beyond love's reach."
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