Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Les anges du péché (1943)

          Les anges du péché (1943) was the first feature length film by Catholic director Robert Bresson (1901-1999). The screenplay was written with the help of a French Dominican priest, Fr. Raymond Leopold Bruckberger, and playwright Jean Giraudoux.  Bresson's next movie was Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945).
The film is set in a Dominican convent that takes in female ex-prisoners.  It examines the effect of good on evil, evil on good, what happens when one "stands too close to the fire", and how that fire can transform and be transformed.  That is, it examines the operation of grace.

Like Bresson's other motion pictures, it acts on the viewer on several levels -- the cerebral, the spiritual, and the visceral.  It features trademark Bresson visuals focusing on the interplay of light and shadow, and religious symbolism that is recognizable without being overly predictable or trite.

The casting and acting are impeccable.  Moreover, those who have seen The Nun's Story (1959) will have a chance to view a different resolution of the conflicts and struggles of religious life.  

This terrific film is now available in an all-region DVD from one of the Korean distributors under the title "Angels of Sin".  It has English subtitles as well as Korean and is of quite acceptable quality.

Image"Umbrella opened" from Wikimedia Commons.  Click for licensing.

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