Friday, June 27, 2014

TO TRANSLATE THE INVISIBLE BY THE WATER IT SCULPTS IN PASSING: An anecdote on Bresson's GENESIS


Damian Jaques' poster for Robert Bresson's La Genèse

A great anecdote—true or not, I don't know—is recounted by Dominic Nolan in Simon Braund's book The Greatest Movies You'll Never See (2013). In 1963, famed Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis assembled a group of prestigious directors—Fellini, Bergman, Visconti, and Welles among them—to make films from various books in the Bible. The first, Genesis, was to be made by Robert Bresson.

Thinking of the grandeur of Noah's Ark rather than the austere films of Robert Bresson, De Laurentiis arranged for animals to be brought in from Rome's zoo, and various caged beasts
lions, giraffes, hippos, tigers, etc.soon arrived on set. De Laurentiis, pleased with how events were proceeding, congratulated the Frenchman on the scope of his vision. Bresson, confused, responded, "One will see only their footprints in the sand." 

It was no joke: not a single animal could be seen in the rushes, only tracks in the sand... An hour later, a very irritated De Laurentiis—who had spared no expense in bringing the animals to set—fired one of the greatest artists ever to work in film.

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