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Movie Poster of the Week: The Posters of Robert Bresson

A look at the best posters for the films of Robert Bresson, to coincide with the Film Forum retrospective.
Pickpocket poster

A tonic for the New Year: for the next two weeks Film Forum is running a near-complete retrospective of the films of Robert Bresson programmed by the TIFF Cinematheque. The posters for Bresson’s films are a fascinating grab-bag of styles, verging from melodrama to minimalism to symbolism to the wildly inappropriate (see the Italian Mouchette), as designers tried to express and occasionally subvert Bresson’s celebrated and increasing austerity. My favorite may well be this lovely, witty French grande for Pickpocket, illustrated by the great Christian Broutin (best known for his iconic Jules and Jim posters). But there are plenty of other standouts, most especially Raymond Savignac’s series of playful cartoons for Bresson’s final three films: Lancelot du Lac, The Devil, Probably and L’Argent, and the stunning Czech surrealism for Une femme douce.

I present my favorite Bresson posters, a couple per film if possible, in chronological order. Titles in English or French depending on how the films are best known here.

This was sadly the largest image I could find for this French poster for Bresson’s debut Les anges du péché (1943):

Les anges du peche poster

Two strikingly dramatic French posters for Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945):

Les dames du Vois de Boulogne posterLes

A beautiful French poster by Paul Colin for Diary of a Country Priest (1951):

Diary of a Country priest poster

Two minimalist French posters for A Man Escaped (1956), the second by Guy Gerard Noel:

A Man Escaped posterA Man Escaped poster

Polish and German posters for Pickpocket (1959), the latter by the great Hans Hillman (again, best copy I could find, I’m afraid):

Pickpocket poster

French poster by Gustave Nebel for The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) and a Japanese design (those Bressonian hands!):

The Trial of Joan of Arc poster

The classic Ferracci poster for Au hasard Balthazar (1966), and a superb Polish design by Jacek Neugebauer:

Au hasard Balthazar posterAu hasard Balthazar poster

Italian and Finnish posters for Mouchette (1967):

Mouchette posterMouchette poster

The Czech and French illustrations for Une femme douce (1969):

Un femme douce posterUn femme douce poster

French and Polish minimalism (the Polish poster again by Jacek Neugebauer) for Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971):

Four Nights of a Dreamer posterFour Nights of a Dreamer poster

Raymond Savignac’s Lancelot du Lac (1974):

Lancelot du Lac poster

Savignac’s The Devil, Probably (1977):

The Devil, Probably poster

And finally L’Argent (1983) by Savignac and also by Belgian artist Guy Peellaert (best known for his Taxi Driver poster and Bowie’s Diamond Dogs cover).

L'Argent posterL'Argent poster

Thanks to Stanley Oh of Posteritati for help with some of these images.

The LANCELOT poster is one of my favorite images ever.
Ben, weren’t you going to get a tattoo of that poster on your arm?
I prefer my Bresson without posters…To me watching Bresson is like going to church…you know it’s holy…you have to act reverent…there is a fate that seems to grind at you till it touches your soul…and then you just quietly leave…
I think Ben is correct about the Lancelot poster, it reminds me of the “Charlie the Unicorn” bits on youtube—so ahead of its time.
another great post adrian! about the top pickpocket image – I only know of that art on the Argentine and a weird 9×12″ French “poster” which I’m convinced is the cover of the French pressbook which are 9×12″ The only French posters I’ve seen use some version of the hand photo with yellow type. about the great savignac art for l’argent – When L’argent was released, the Savignac art was not used on a poster (as far as I know), only on the French pressbook. One was produced later by Savignac as a sort of “art poster”, but was never used theatrically.
You’d think MOUCHETTE was by Dario Argento from its Italian poster.
I love those Czech posters.
I love the Czech poster for “Un femme douce.”

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