Pickpocket (1959)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama


Pickpocket (1959) Poster

Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.


7.7/10
17,677

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  • Pickpocket (1959)
  • Marika Green and Martin LaSalle in Pickpocket (1959)
  • Pickpocket (1959)
  • Marika Green and Martin LaSalle in Pickpocket (1959)
  • Martin LaSalle in Pickpocket (1959)
  • Martin LaSalle in Pickpocket (1959)

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12 October 2006 | man1998
The pain of solitude
  • Do you feel lonely ? -Bresson : very lonely …. Very … but I don't like it to be lone !!


It would be hard for a regular movie-watcher , some one who just watches for fun , to like the movies made by formalist , strictly stylist director , Robert Bresson . But when we are aware of his elaborate work and subtlety , we admire his skill , undoubtedly .

Pickpocket ( 1959 ) , is one his best and most thoughtful films and has a key role in recognizing both Bresson and his works .

Pickpocket is about an alone and desperate writer who think of himself as a superior to the society ; He thinks he is better than others and believes to be in the right of breaking the rules and neglecting the social Contract .

He defines justice for himself as " some people have the privilege to break the laws , willingly " . He feels humiliated to do regular jobs and thus , begins pocket picking .

And from one of the most basic elements of the story , i.e. main character , there is a gap , a distance , between us ( audience ) and the film . In fact , because of non-naturalistic quality of the plot , we can't sympathize with him ; and what makes him even more distant , is the Bresson's personal touch and fond of "deadpan acting and not showing emotions " . Bresson says himself that " if possible , he prefers to utilize an image , a sound , and any other elements ( and metaphors ) instead of actors " . He wants the actors ( as a matter of fact he uses non-professional actors after his second movie ) to act deliberately and be aware of a witness called camera . In other words he wants them " not to act " .

In this movie , the cast and specially the hero are totally flat and expressionless ; even his walking style is sort of flat . But we can't reject his way of acting ( in fact , not acting ) . There is a deep coldness in this style of performance which makes it surprisingly and paradoxically acceptable and fits well in the world of the movie ; particularly , sympathetic face of the main character which increases contributes in this plausibility .

The cinematography , lighting and playing with shadows and lights in this movie is truly delicate and these factors in addition to a cold open and sort of suspension , forms the idea of a thriller movie . Yes ! Suspension is a key factor here ; and not a regular kind of suspension ; but a Bresson type .

Even , some think that sound editing in this movie , decrease the suspension in some scenes and increase it in some other scenes . For example , in some occasions , a sound or noise , inform us of the occurrence of an incident ; or repeating a sound in another scene can mitigate the effect of suspension . Also there is a scene in which the main character is walking anxiously in a crowded sidewalk ; we can not hear the sounds , the street noise and even the cars ; the only sound is his footsteps , which makes suspension .

It is true that use of music is not considerable in this film , but we can't renounce the sound effects here .

Another point is that Bresson never lets the main character to show fear and anxiety ( unlike Hitchcock who loves to do so ) ; instead he depends on images and sounds to supply the fear : sound of footsteps , images of shaking hands and cold faces ( the opening scene ) , door handle turned quietly … and actually anything .

There are some references to" Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment" ; like the basic similarities between the heroes : Michel and Raskolnikov who both tend to commit crimes ; both being lonely and isolated … and even the hole behind Michel's bed he use to hide the stolen valuable goods ( like Dostoyevsky's hero ) . Knowing these references , is a suspension itself ; some kind of fear .

Yes ! most of the times , we don't have music ; the music remains silent , and waits ; ( something unusual in those days of film-making ) ; yet , this small appearance of music , is fitting and timely . There is no such a thing as spare scenes or excess dialog in this movie ; everything is in its right place and for those who can't comprehend the non- naturalistic structure of the film , and can not accept fears , anxiety , and emotional disturbances of this cold hero , Bresson arranges the famous final scene in which the main character redeems through love ; with music !! Now , let us come back to the QA we had at the beginning of this article ; we see Bresson , lonely like the hero of his film ; self-consciously tries to break the rules ( another kind of rules ) ; and has a style of his own … ! … And make us to admire his mastership and loneliness !

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