My Senses of Cinema article is finally out:
Journal d'un cure de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest, Robert Bresson, 1951)
It's strange how Bresson's Journal d'un curé de campagne (Dairy of a Country Priest, 1951), a film considered by many to be so spiritual, is so thoroughly immersed in the physical. But Catholicism--and the film is steeped in it--is full of paradoxes: loving one's enemies; believing in one God with three incarnations; needing to die to gain eternal life. Bresson at an early point of his career--using the Georges Bernanos novel--seems to be telling us that to present matters indefinite (the spirit, or soul), you need for material matters definite (the body, the world it lives in); more, to break free of the world of the physical you must first take a firmer hold on said world--for traction, if you like.
The film's first image is of the eponymous diary. You see the texture of the journal's thick paper cover; behind that, a blotter splotched with ink; behind that, a page full of scribbling. The act of writing--scratching ink on rough paper, carefully blotting it, just as carefully closing the cover to keep the contents safe--will become a repeated motif, emphasizing the act of physically capturing and putting down on sheets of flattened pulp one's thoughts and ideas and emotions. Capturing and rendering on paper, so to speak, such elements of the soul as one can record.