Notes on cinematography

Catch instants. Spontaneity, freshness.

Retouching the real with the real.

Model. His pure essence.

Be the first to see what you see as you see it.

To find a kinship between image, sound and silence. To give them an air of being glad to be together, of having chosen their place. Milton: Silence was pleased. 

Cinematography, the art, with images, of representing nothing.

It does happen that the disorder of a film, because it is monotonous, deceives us, gives us the illusion of order. But it is a negative, sterile order. At a respectful distance from order and disorder.

What is for the eye must not duplicate what is for the ear.

Gestures and words cannot form the substance of a film as they form the substance of a stage play. But the substance of a film can be that… thing or those things which provoke the gestures and words and which are produced in some obscure way in your models. Your camera sees them and records them. So one escapes from the photographic reproduction of actors performing a play; and cinematography, that new writing, becomes at the same time a method of discovery.

Nothing more inelegant and ineffective than an art conceived in another art’s form.

Human models: Movement from the exterior to the interior. (Actors: movement from the interior to the exterior). The thing that matters is not what they show me but what they hide from me and, above all, what they do not suspect is in them.

No psychology (of the kind which discovers only what it can explain).

In this language of images, one must lose completely the notion of image. The image must exclude the idea of image.

Your film is not readymade. It makes itself as it goes along under your gaze. Images and sounds in a state of waiting and reserve.

It is in its pure form that an art hits hard.

Your film is not made for a stroll with the eyes, but for going right into, for being totally absorbed in.

It is not a matter of acting “simple” or of acting “inward” but of not acting at all.

Make the objects look as if they want to be there.

When the public is ready to feel before understanding, what a number of films reveal and explain everything to it!

Hostility to the art is also hostility to the new, to the unforeseen.

Build your film on white, on silence and on stillness.

Robert Bresson


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