A searing story about the circulation of a counterfeit five-hundred-franc note and the moral ruin it leaves in its wake, Robert Bresson’s thirteenth and final feature, L’argent (1983), stands as one of his most urgent spiritual testaments, eventually focusing in on a truck driver who winds up on a path to violence after passing the bill. In adapting Tolstoy’s The Forged Coupon, and transplanting its action from czarist Russia to modern-day Paris, the director continued to hone many of his signature stylistic gestures and thematic concerns, further paring down his elliptical editing and stark compositions to conduct this piercing inquiry into greed and transgression. In “L’argent,” A to Z, a video essay on our new edition of the film, scholar James Quandt goes through the alphabet, examining some of Bresson’s most enduring preoccupations through their expression in the filmmaker’s swan song. Reflection and repetition are the watchwords in the excerpt below, in which Quandt discusses the play of transparency and deception in the film’s preponderance of glass surfaces as well as the rhythm established by Bresson’s frequent rhyming of images and sounds.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.