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Pickpocket (The Criterion Collection)

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Bresson's masterful investigation of crime and redemption tells the story of arrogant, young Michel, who spends his days learning the art of picking pockets in the streets, subway cars, and train stations of Paris. As Michel grows bolder and more a

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by film scholar James Quandt
  • New video introduction by writer-director Paul Schrader
  • The Models of "Pickpocket," a 2003 documentary by filmmaker Babette Mangolte, featuring actors from the film
  • A 1960 interview with Bresson, from the French television program Cinepanorama
  • Q&A on Pickpocket, with actress Marika Green and filmmakers Paul Vecchiali and Jean-Pierre Ameris fielding questions at a 2000 screening of the film
  • Footage of sleight-of-hand artist and Pickpocket consultant Kassagi, from a 1962 episode of the French television show La piste aux etoiles
  • Original theatrical poster
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A new essay by novelist and culture critic Gary Indiana

Product Details

  • Actors: César Gattegno, Marika Green, Kassagi, Martin LaSalle, Pierre Leymarie
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB14IA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,279 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pickpocket (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on June 1, 2006
Format: DVD
"Pickpocket" never grabs us the way a standard movie does. The plot is difficult to extract, and the storyline is never as easy to understand as we might like. Minimalism is at play, although it never overtakes this complex film about a man's search for meaning in the bowels of his own soul.

Just as with movies like "Passion of the Christ," or "Clockwork Orange," my appreciation of the movie is not because I felt good throughout, but because throughout the movie, I was able to think about what makes humankind and the shape of redemption.

"Pickpocket" is an art house film, with its long vignette style, with Hitchcock-like shots and film noir-like shadowing.

Michel, the main character, develops a desperate fetish for pickpocketing. He learns to be good at the techniques of pickpocketing. He practices wrist watch stealing with the leg of a table as the arm.

No one is lonelier than Michel in his fetish. He knows it is wrong and is unable to face his own mother. His eyes are almost always downturned. They are partly looking for the next steal, and partly unable to face the real world.

All of Michel's relationships are void of passion and intimacy. The closest relationship is that with a police inspector who knows Michel is a thief but chooses not to prove it. He sees good in Michel and tries to steer him out of the lifestyle.

Throughout, Michel is selfish, even when he gives his mother money. That is to appease his guilt, not to lift his mother's finances or encourage her spirits.

Michel, unable to escape his fetish, justifies criminals at large by suggesting some, as artisans of their craft, should retain a kind of freedom to steal.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on January 31, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
All of Bressons films deal with some character who does not fit into society for some reason. His heros are all rebels like Dostoyevsky's hero's(Pickpocket is based on a Dostoyevsky story) and Camus'. They are stories about people who do not fit in and while studying just how and why they don't fit in Bresson also studies society itself. Some of his movies are just plain bleak but this one has an ending that makes this film unique among this directors work. I think it is rightly singled out as the best though that doesn't mean it's the only one worth seeing. His films are complex and the more of them you see the more his films makes sense. Bresson is a director who does demand his viewers think and he frames his scenes in a way that rebels against cinematic norms in the same way his characters rebel against societal norms but in that style is much substance. If you are only going to see one Bresson film this is the one to see but if you want to see more I would suggest L'Argent after this one. Diary of a Country Priest is excellent but I think best appreciated by those who have already grown familiar with Bresson's style. Each of his films are quite unique and one of my favorites is Lancelot of the Lake which is a most interesting re-telling of that famous legend.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Much has been made of Bresson's austerity, which is valid, yet what comes from that simplicity is simply one of the most emotional films in the history of cinema. There is no attempt to manipulate emotions in the conventional Hollywood style, Bresson lays it out for the viewer, in the filmic equivalent of the objective correlative, and what arises is awe and a longing for redemption.
Bresson was notorious for doing multiple takes, effectively stripping his actors of all energy and facial expression. The viewer cannot rely on the characters to express their feelings in the typical sense, he or she must pay careful attention to what is said and to gestures made in order to decipher the subtext.
The station sequence is the finest testimony for film in terms of seperating it from the novel. More often than not, what is done in film can be done just as well in prose, but not the station sequence, where the viewer is thrusted into a world of thievery. It's payoff comes from the observation of technique and the effectiveness of the montage, what you see leaves you speechless.
Bresson's film are an acquired taste, and require much patience. However, the payoffs are enormous.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 15, 2006
Format: DVD
Looking like a French movie but sounding like Russian literature with all the furniture cataloguing removed, Pickpocket is from the days when Bresson still drew more naturalistic performances from his non-professional casts rather than turning them into stilted and self-conscious mannequins (although Marika Green falls into the latter category, always looking at her feet as if her lines were written on her shoes in classic Bresson automaton mode), and combines the sleek look of a studio policier with a pared down moral debate from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, with theft replacing murder.

Unlike Bresson's more obviously spiritual films (A Man Escaped, Au Hasard Balthazar, Diary of a Country Priest), there's no religious quest here: instead, there's a determinedly atheistic one, with Martin LaSalle's would-be Prince of Pickpockets pursuing an ideal of intellectual elitism as justification for crime against society's morality, failing to realise that he's just another of the thousands of petty egotist in the criminal little leagues. He simply has the ability to articulate his own notions of superiority, completely unaware that he probably works harder at his criminal skills than he would ever do at a proper job.

It's also possibly Bresson's most overtly cinematic work despite the underplaying of the dialog scenes.
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