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Notes on the Cinematographer (Green Integer) [Paperback]

Robert Bresson , Jonathan Griffin , J.M.G. Le Clezio
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 1997 1557133654 978-1557133656
Robert Bresson makes some quite radical distinctions between what he terms "cinematography" and something quite different: "cinema"—which is for him nothing but an attempt to photograph theater and use it for the screen.

Director of The Trial of Joan of Arc, Pickpocket, A Prisoner Escapes, Diary of a Country Priest, Money, and many other classic films, Robert Bresson is, quite simply, one of the most brilliant cinematographers in the history of film.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From 1950 to 1974, French film director Bresson ( Pickpocket, Mouchette wrote notes for his own use, and over 450 of those brief reflections were collected for this slim volume. The casual but succinct observations, presented here three or four to a page, consist of short paragraphs or single sentences. Some are fragmentary phrases: "Passionate for the appropriate." Some are self-directed: "Apply myself to insignificant (non-significant) image." Some are maxims: "Empty the pond to get the fish." Some are quotations: "Cezanne: 'At each touch I risk my life.' " Some are questions: "Is it for singing always the same song that the nightingale is so admired?" All demonstrate a scintillating curiosity and quest for perfection.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Green Integer
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Green Integer (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557133654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557133656
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 4.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for any non-Hollywood Style Filmmakers May 13, 2003
By A Customer
If you want a step by step, how to make film book, you're better off browsing the bookstore at your local film school.
If you are a novice filmmaker, and you want to make art with film or video, and you want a guidebook on how to THINK and FEEL about your chosen art form, this is a must.
Bresson inspired the French New Wave filmmakers, and in my opinion was one of the few directors this world has seen who actually considered the particular reality of the moving image and created a set of principles to guide his choices as a director based on the medium itself, and not on any inherited traditional technique. One of the primary divisions in film theory is whether you believe film to be an extension of theatre or something entirely different.
For Bresson theatre is a more intellectual, mind based experience, whereas film is an EXPERIENTIAL art form. Bresson was highly interest in TRUTH over the APPEARANCE of truth. For Bresson the camera and audio recorder capture the essence of a thing, and therefore he cautions against using actors, and sets, and instead suggests people being themselves and shooting on actual locations.
This book is actually a collection of notes that Bresson wrote to himself over the course of his career. It is a wonderful look into the mind of an artist. In this book I have found a kindred spirit, whose insights into the nature of film and film production are distilled down to their essential forms. What kind of Truth does the camera capture, what elements go in the mise-en-scene which add or distort that truth, how do you illicit the inner truth of the actor (model) while still maintaining the requirements of the plot and script?
There are two books which have, for me, opened up the truest possibilities of film as an artform.
Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIND IT CHEAPER OFF AMAZON January 31, 2011
As I write this review, Amazon shows the book as out of print, with used copies running from $25-300.

YOU CAN BUY THIS BOOK DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHER ( FOR ONLY $10! Don't sucker in to these jacked up prices. The marketplace sellers are trying to rip you off.

That aside, this is a wonderful, expressionistic mini-tome with haiku-like meditations on cinema as perplexing visual art. Highly recommended (but only if you get it for a reasonable price).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towards a Poetics of Film August 9, 2000
There is no better guide to the process and experience of making a film. Though its epigrammatic style makes it at first seem abstract, Notes on the Cinematographer is essentially a step-by-step handbook on what to do (and more so, what not to do) with actors and a movie camera. The title is so unintentionally misleading as to the subject of the work, which contains not a single line on lighting or photography ('cinematographer' is Bresson's rhetorical name for 'film-maker') that I believe it has obscured what would otherwise be a justly renown (and more readily-available) classic text on filmmaking.
This book stands also as an intriguing commentary on Bresson's films, on which is it is difficult to say anything adequate.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing With Images March 7, 2003
"Notes on the Cinematographer" is a tidy, Zen-like summation of the special aesthetic Bresson brought to film. 'Cinema' to him was simply filmed theater. He wanted movies to do something more, to create a new language of images that could express a character's inner states and moods (I think this goal, more than anything, explains why he's so often labeled a 'spiritual' director). Bresson wanted faces, not actors; events, not scenes; "BEING instead of SEEMING." To this end he insisted on amateurs over trained actors, noises over music, slowness and close-ups over speed and pans. Cinematography as Bresson explains it here is a unique form of writing. His efforts to make an essentially mechanical & visual medium parallel the inwardness of the written word has to be one of the strangest and most fascinating projects in the history of film. Not surprisingly, he writes beautifully, and these aphoristic koans, surrounded by all that empty white space, are as haunting as anything he captured on film. A tiny masterpiece.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all involved in creation June 27, 1999
By A Customer
While Bresson's short, minimalist notes were written about and for film, they apply to all creative endeavors. So much of the artistic process is about knowing what to leave out, when to stop, what notes not to play, what colors not to use, what words to take out. Bresson, with an amazing economy of words, dazzles repeatedly. Poetic, profound, wise (and often arrogant), Bresson's collection is more than a treatise on the "cinematograph" as he calls film. It is a lesson in making, and even a lesson in living. To be read slowly said an earlier reviewer...How about to be read repeatedly and daily, genuine words of wisdom. yb
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Buy Overpriced Copies :) October 16, 2013
Over the years I have seen the price of this book skyrocket on Amazon,
& stay overpriced until a more sensible seller offers the book for what it's worth.

As I write this, it is $170 new & $75 used.

This is just a note to all buyers. If you go to the Green Integer website, it is always only $11.

This is beautiful book by a very conflicted & gifted filmmaker whose methods often contradiction his theories, reinforcing the conflict & making for a fascinating read.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Small book of thought fragments
Having seen all the praise for this book I was motivated to find it. The book is actually available as a pdf file for free on the internet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Book Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A bible for aspiring filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts
Bresson was and remains the master of cinema, and this small bible allows the master to be the teacher to aspiring filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike. Read more
Published 7 months ago by N. Anno
4.0 out of 5 stars A sparse little quote book.
A decent window into a masters mind. Not as exhaustive as I would have hoped.
Don't expect a great read. Just a little advice book from one of the greats.
Published 19 months ago by Robert Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it when available!
I finally had the chance to buy this book. It has always been out of stock and the only option for buying it was on amazon seller lists or on ebay where it sold for ridiculously... Read more
Published on May 17, 2012 by intro
5.0 out of 5 stars Koans of a master artisan
Among 20th Century film makers, names like Renoir, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Welles and Bresson carry a special cachet. Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by Cliff Burns
5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest Wine, The Holy of Holies? Some May Not Appreciate The...
Robert Bresson (not the great photographer Cartier-Bresson) is like one of the best wines, wasted on non-connoisseurs. Read more
Published on November 29, 2010 by Pier Marton
5.0 out of 5 stars A fundamental approach to know the master of masters!
Bresson was a poet . His clear and smart thoughts about the cinema are so clearly expossed that breathe honesty all the way . Read more
Published on August 21, 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
3.0 out of 5 stars Notes on the Cinematographer
Not what I expected. This book is more philosophical, than literal. I like it, but it's like reading a lot of proverbs, you cannot absorb it all, only the few that strike you at... Read more
Published on August 29, 2002 by D. Schoneveld
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