Exercise 3 – Project 3

Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001) available in five parts on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF

Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log, taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).

What struck me most about Henri Cartier-Bresson’s approach to his work is that it comes across as effortless to him.  It’s all about luck – such as the pointing of the camera through the railings for the iconic leaping man shot and his inherent intuition as described in his taking of the shot of the children playing in the covered square. The narrator recalls that Bresson didn’t stop for a second “Whilst others are unobservant, Henri is on the lookout ready to react.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

Indeed, Bresson observes that “People don’t look.” (L’amour de court , 2001), Bresson intuitively sees the geometry of “the divine proportion”

When talking portraits of his artist friends or “doing a head” (L’amour de court , 2001) as Alberto Giacometti referred to it, Bresson was observed to capture the “movement of a man in relation to himself his absolute being….The carefree nature of a man who had no umbrella”. (L’amour de court , 2001)

It was stated that Bresson’s approach was “never using anything that wasn’t from his own perception” often taking a photo when others wouldn’t think to – for example when photographing Pierre Bonnard – who challenged “why did you push the button then?” (L’amour de court , 2001)

The narrator of the film noticed how Bresson managed to take photographs where others would be spotted and stopped.  The example of the photographs taken at the funeral of a Kabuki actor in 1965

“These faces wear the intensity of a Caravaggio or a Dreyer. These people are natural, absorbed in themselves. Henri CB likes those that he photographs not to realise what he’s doing. If the subject is aware someone is staring at them, they will pose, put on a mask and lose spontaneity. Thus, Henri paints black the shiny parts of his Leica, so that no gleam of light will draw attention to him. How could he not be noticed here yet seem to stand among the deceased actor’s friends? One may say they were too preoccupied by their grief to be aware of him. But grief makes many people overwrought and sensitive. At a funeral, a stranger is easily noticed. My belief is, that if Henri was invisible on that day it was because among these mourners he too felt pain. Don’t get me wrong. Not exactly sorrow for the death of a stranger, a sorrow that would have surprised and been noticed, but compassion, which can be felt even for others’ mourning, and which makes one withdraw into oneself, and therefore to make oneself invisible.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

What I found sad in the film was that for someone whose “tool was part of his soul” (L’amour de court , 2001), at the time of the filming, Bresson was no longer thinking in terms of photographs, but at that time he liked to draw (but with the same attention to form) stating that even “the tiniest piece of graffiti has meaning.” (L’amour de court , 2001)

L’amour de court (2001) [user-uploaded content online] Creat. Rangefindergeneral 7 Feb 2008 At: http://http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF (Accessed on 04 October 2016)




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