The Devil, Probably

1977 [FRENCH]


IMDb Rating 7.1 10 3934

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May 23, 2022 at 04:56 AM


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891.45 MB
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1 hr 37 min
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1.62 GB
fre 2.0
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1 hr 37 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ilpohirvonen 10 / 10

The Vacancy of Modern Life and Destruction of Civilization

Robert Bresson was at the age of 70 when he made his 12th feature which also marked his second last film. The style is pure Bresson for its dogmatism of ideas and characters. Precise 'mise-en-scene', perfect development of aesthetics and astonishing construction of state characterize the stylistics of Bresson. The Devil, Probably is for its world view one of Bresson's most inconsolable films. It portrays Parisian youth and its consciousness but at the same brushes many current topics, such as; pollution, profusion of wood industry, slaughter of baby seals, the threat of ecological disaster, the decay of religion and politics, the cruelty of all social institutions and, the absurdity of consumer society. But as usually in the films by Bresson the essential battle is being fought inside man - in the zone of personal emotion, faith and morality.

The protagonist of the film refuses to be a part of this society. He doesn't want to compete in this rat race whose values he seems as absurd. In the middle of materialism and superficial values he tries to find spiritual deliverance from his friends and family - but can't, because they all are already slaves of this society. Eventually his friends suggest him to see a psychiatrist - the culmination of blind appreciation in our world. Thoughts of suicide begin to fill his mind, even that he can't bear the idea of being unable to see, experience and hear - Mozart's music. In the end he understands that any decent action in a corrupt world only reinforces the corruption of it and, intrinsically for a materialistic world he has to buy his own death.

An important observation is that in the development of aesthetics Bresson very rarely moves his camera. He edits and uses montage instead. This is Bressonian aesthetics; perfection of the state and composition. There are several unforgettable images in the film and together they form a spellbinding synthesis - the art of continuity; the film starts with an image where a boat suddenly enters the state and, ends with one where a man exits the state. The minimalism can be seen in both, aesthetics and narrative, and it reinforces the overall distressing atmosphere of the film.

The Devil, Probably has an incredibly pessimistic world view of the destruction of civilization but, at the same, it proves that there still is hope. How else mankind could have made a masterpiece like this? The images we observe force the viewer to think, watch closely and see the beauty in simple things. There is no love, nor hope to save the protagonist as there was in earlier films by Bresson but his unsentimental death will be remembered as the culmination of life and the mystery of it.

During the protagonist's conquest he seems to be failing miserably because there is no spiritual deliverance for him. This is the thesis of the film but, as an atheist, the Christianity of the film didn't bother me at all. The protagonist could just as well be searching for philosophy, for a deeper meaning in life - not necessarily from religion. Even that the title refers to Bresson's Catholicism it can also be read as an allegory. The Devil is the one who pulls the strings and enslaves us in this absurd consumer society. There is something much deeper, something that goes beyond the limitations of religion.

Ecology and other current issues are just part of the frame-story. The film goes much deeper in humanity studying themes, such as; the fragility of materialism, pressure of urban living, soul searching, superficiality and vacancy of modern life. In addition for its pessimistic world view of the destruction of civilization, the film is a remarkable masterpiece which proves that there still is the consciousness of man that will set us free from the chains of materialism and irrationality.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 5 / 10

Robert Bresson's least satisfying film, probably

"What prompted me to shoot this film is the waste we have made of everything. It's this mass civilization in which the human being won't exist any more. This mad restlessness. This huge demolition undertaking where we will die where we thought we lived. It's also the astounding indifference from people in general except some young ones who are more lucid".

This is what Robert Bresson declared when his film was released thirty years ago and he surely had good reasons to defend his deeply pessimistic view about the future of the world. It's 1977 and the "thirty-year boom period after World War II" is just over. This golden age of economic, social growth improved many people's lives but also led to grave results like pollution or the nearly extinction of several animal species. Although "le Diable Probablement" was released thirty years ago, the main issues it broaches are still topical ones in 2007 especially with global warming. Could Bresson be a visionary?

Different characters in Bresson's work experienced a cruel, ruthless world, either it is a priest (Journal d'UN Curé De Campagne, 1951), a donkey (Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966) or a little girl (Mouchette, 1967). Here, he puts his camera amid a bunch of teenagers in their twenties something who are horrified with man did to the planet. The strongest points of the work take place during the slide shows when they comment on a neutral voice the damage man caused to the environment. These pictures pack a real wallop and it's impossible not to remain indifferent in front of them. They efficiently serve Bresson's purpose.

But why "le Diable Probabalement" is ultimately underwhelming in Bresson's filmography? These scary pictures are well here to bear witness of the "huge demolition" in which we're trapped but the filmmaker doesn't introduce the causes. They are absent, either they're of social or economical source. That's why we are little convinced and indifferent once these images aren't on the screen any more. And what doesn't help matters is that when the camera lingers on Charles and his friends' everyday life or significant events, these issues of pollution, famine, waste of natural resources seem so far from the filmmaker's main lines that our interest progressively wanes. And the thought that this bunch of teenagers doesn't seem to directly live in this horrible world often springs to mind, except maybe once when Charles and Albert go in a forest and not to see and hear the sound of the trees falling down, the former puts his fingers in his ears.

So, Bresson's film is the victim of a large gap between its purpose and its manner to reach it. It should have gained intensity by being more tightened. Of course, it's a "Bressonian" work to the core with an austere, straightforward directing, "models" who recite their texts and the confrontation of subjective minds with an objective, cruel world but "le Diable Probablement" isn't Bresson's most adequate film to see these features blended to create a big harmonious work. On virtually the same topic, the documentary "an Inconvenient Truth" (2006) is more effectively creepy.

In the sequence when Charles is to the analyst's, at one moment he bends over the shrink's desk and can see a drawer full of checks and notes. This detail could be an indication about the next direction taken by Bresson for his next film: "l'Argent" (1983).

Reviewed by lasttimeisaw 7 / 10

Robert Bresson's penultimate film

Robert Bresson's penultimate film, THE DEVIL, PROBABLY definitely is one of his less appreciated work, at the age of 76, his structurally rigid study of a young generation's disillusion and voluntary ostracism towards the society comes off as an aloof, poker-faced but penetrating treatise about ultimate taedium vitae as the zeitgeist of its time, and invites rumination afterwards.

A pre-announced death of a young man Charles (Monnier), leaving a question mark hovering above viewer's head, is it a suicidal case or actually a murder, the picture jumps forwards six months earlier, then steadfastly guides us into Charles' self-rejected life philosophy and the activities happening around him and his friends. Barely any figure of an older generation exists in the story, Charles has a sharp mind (he is good at maths), and alternately stays with two girlfriends: a more sensitive Alberte (Irissari) and a more freewheeling Edwige (Carcano). Meanwhile, a common friend Michel (Maublanc) falls for Alberte and stands by her side each time she feels insecure in Charles' absence.

Charles in not afraid to die, but suicide is something he detests, like politics, religions and the world itself where vice and cruelty are rampant, he refuses to interfere with the world he lives in, and nobody can inveigle him into giving up his belief. As he tauntingly reveals his thought to the psychoanalyst (Hanrion), the pleasure of despair, derived from his no-action, is the sole reason why he lives, once that fades away, there is only one egress for him.

Bresson integrates documentary footages apropos of environmental damage caused by human activities and its repercussion (rickets in Japan after nuclear radiation) into the disjointed narrative, a tough scene, where one can see a seal being battered on its head by a man, and also the montages of trees being felled, monotonously remind us of our sinful acts, 40 years and so on, to this day, the situation only aggravates, that's the main reason why some of us are so pessimistic towards the world.

Employing non-professional young actors and firmly fixating his frame on the lower part of the bodies, the film itself is just like Charles, detached but dogged, and as fearless as him, lectures us about a radical but possibly influential ideology, whether resonance can be induced or not.

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