- Rated: Unrated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 55 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: February 3, 2004
- Originally Released: 1950
- Label: Criterion
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 - French
- Additional Release Material:
- Deleted Scenes (11 Minutes)
- Audio Commentary: Peter Cowie - Film Historian
- Text/Photo Galleries:
- New Essay by Film Critic Frederic Bonnaud
Performers, Cast and Crew:
USA Today - 02/13/2004
"This is often regarded as the best movie by France's Robert Bresson -- one of the world's most widely admired filmmakers."
Premiere - 04/01/2004
"[O]nce you tune into the director's mode, every shot, every gesture is so charged and vital, it's as if you're watching destiny unfold before your eyes."
Total Film - 05/01/2008
4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his sublime picture is directed by Robert Bresson, who painstakingly crafts his signature visuals -- stark, forceful and rigorous in their attention to detail..."
Uncut - 05/01/2008
4 stars out of 5 -- "[O]ne of the most austere masterworks of French cinema....This is perhaps the most serious-minded weepie that cinema has ever produced."
Sight and Sound - 05/01/2008
"It's Bresson's longest film but he doesn't waste a frame..."
Wall Street Journal - 02/25/2011
"[A] masterpiece, a slow-paced film of great purity that portrays the pain and occasional joy of the religious life."
Robert Bresson's landmark character study of one man's crisis of faith in THE DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST vaulted him into the front rank of French filmmakers. The film follows a young priest as he deals with various seemingly insurmountable difficulties: the tangled animosities of the people in his parish, his own inability to find solace in prayer, and a growing suspicion that the illness he's experiencing might indeed be fatal. An older priest offers him down-to-earth advice about distancing himself from the personal lives of the villagers, but the young priest feels compelled to help them, even if his devoted efforts could well be hastening his own death.
Robert Bresson's profoundly moving DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST represents a radical departure from the staid movie adaptations of novels that had preceded it. Rather than translate author George Bernanos's story of a small-town priest's struggle with doubt--and the petty provocations of the townspeople--in the usual fashion, Bresson chooses instead to place an emphasis on the character's inner life, his thoughts, and simple joys.
With this film, Bresson crafted a minimalist style that he continued to use for the rest of his career. Made on low budgets and shot primarily on location, Bresson's studies of souls in crisis influenced an incredible number of subsequent European and American filmmakers who incorporated elements of his style into their work--for example, distinct echoes of DIARY can be found all throughout Martin Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER.
The hallmarks of Bresson's style included the casting of nonprofessionals in the lead roles, his unique framing of characters, his spare but extremely effective use of sound effects, and subtle, unobtrusive camerawork. In DIARY, Bresson strips away the most melodramatic aspects of his hero's journey toward salvation and thus curiously does what he maintained he would never do--he creates a work so fragile and honest that that it cannot fail to touch the viewer's emotions.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Social Issues |
- Bresson began his trademark technique of using nonprofessionals as actors in this, his third feature film.
- The oddest bit of casting found the wise old Curé of Torcy being played by Bresson's real-life psychoanalyst.
- Winner of 8 international awards, including Grand Prize at the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals, and the Prix Louis Delluc.