Reading through Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematographer, several of his musings on film and life struck me as very much related to my own work. When it comes to sound, Bresson says two very interesting things:
The noises must become music
Be sure of having used to the full all that is communicated by immobility and silence.
I am drawn to this idea of the beauty in silence and the sounds of everyday life. While I am still unsure whether I will be using any music in my project, I know that I want it to be a quiet film, one that makes the viewer search out her or his own sense of rhythm and tone. I want my images to play a music of their own, and I want the soft timbre of human voices and the daily sounds of Homestead to become their own sort of chords.
Bresson also addresses the idea of poetry and a film’s intention in two other notes that I found to be germane to my own project:
Your film–let people feel the soul and the heart there, but let it be made like a work of hands.
Something that I love about film is how tactile it is–something that made shifting to video from film so difficult for me. But even in the video world, I think of filmmaking as something being made, something you must put your hands to and work at. Like gardening, or cooking, or cleaning, or even steelmaking, film is a labor. I take Bresson to heart when he asks for your film to “be made like a work of hands.” Despite all the tools involved, filmmaking should, at its core, be a hands-on, handmade art. Without that sense of a filmmaker’s hands behind what we see projected, I think a film loses the personal, the fingerprint, the humanity of what is being made.
Bresson also notes:
Don’t run after poetry. It penetrates unaided through the joins (ellipses).
Sometimes, the most poetic moments in cinema are the ones that are unassuming,
unplanned, or unnoticed. There’s a beautiful scene in Warner Herzog’s Grizzly Man when Timothy Treadwell, in the middle of a trying to perfect a take for his own film, leaves the screen for several minutes. The camera, alone, records the tall brush blowing in the wind. The image is almost magical and what makes it so, according to Herzog, is that it’s unprompted, uninhibited, and genuine. Without trying to, Treadwell captured a moment of the ecstatic beauty of nature that had been driving him all along.
Who knows what epiphanies lie waiting in what the camera saw without our taking notice.