Monday, November 27, 2006

Being and Donkeyness...

What a treat we have in store for you today. It is not often that the Local sees fit to brush dust from the work of one of l’académie's lodestars, a.k.a. their chosen ones, or -- their term -- pan au chocolats. Dust is not an option. See, l’académie's autocrats keep those treasured sheaves of loose leaf locked in wall-mounted humidors, probably around Chamber 19. Could be 20. Again, we're a tad out-of-step with the daily. Anyway, they're hard-to-find, harder-to-read. But it bears repeating: We holding you down, son. Because they can't hold us down. What.

It is much to our chagrin that our bespectacled overseers rarely take notice that their most esteemed archivists have been not faithful worker drones, but rather dyed-in-the-wool M.N.V.L. members, secretly dismantling the (DonKay)Master's house from within. With words. Erm, vive le resistance, or something to that effect. Enough. We're honored to present to you an interview with Robert Bresson, director, writer, donkée at heart. Hee. Haw.

Most of your films are adaptations. Why did you create both story and script for 'Au Hasard Balthazar'?

I can answer the question simply. One day I saw very clearly a donkey as the center of a film, but the next day that image faded away. I had to wait a long time for it to return, but I always wanted to make this film. You may recall that in Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot', Prince Myshkin says he recovered his good spirits by seeing a donkey in the marketplace. Everything you say points to your belief that the human mind isn't enough. Our senses tell us more than our intelligence.

Isn't it ironic that you are known as an intellectual director? I have always thought you profoundly emotional.

Most of what is said about me is wrong and is repeated eternally. Once somebody said that I worked as an assistant director to René Clair, which is not true, and that I studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts — also not true — but this kind of error appears in nearly every account of my career. Of course, the worst mistakes concern my ideas and my way of working.

In those many beautiful shots in which Marie embraces the head of the donkey, were you thinking of the common figure that appears in Renaissance tapestries of the virgin and the unicorn?

No. The resemblance is accidental.

Every day you become more difficult for your audience. So, you only shrug! You're a hard man.

No, I am simply someone who likes exercise. You know that "ascetic" comes from the Greek word for practice of exercise. You know where the title of the film comes from? In the south in Les Baux there is an aristocratic family that pretends to be the descendants of the Magus Balthazar, and so on their crest they wrote "Au Hasard Balthazar." [Balthazar, by chance]. I found it by accident, and the whole story of Balthazar is his chance involvement in the lives of others, so I decided to use this title, which, besides, has a very beautiful rhyme.

Why did you include in 'Au Hasard Balthazar' that short scene with the action painter?

He sits on a clever donkey; I make him speak nonsense.