The essays that follow can be read with an eye to a set of shared concerns, or they can be read separately; their coherence does not depend on a single argument. Nonetheless, recurrent, if uneven, connections dictate the logic of the essays’ collection in the same volume, which should be illuminated for the reader, who certainly deserves to know what the iconoclastic Catholic French filmmaker Robert Bresson (1901–1999), recognized for his aesthetic of minimalization and for the cultivation of automaticity and affectlessness in the nonprofessional actors he routinely called “models,” could have to do with the histrionics of the nineteenth-century Russian novelists Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, never mind with the cosmic hopelessness of the enigmatic creatures in the Czech Franz Kafka’s twentieth-century parables and stories. Of course Bresson filmed Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, though he insisted on the departure of his cinematography from its aesthetic origins: “Even if I make a film from Dostoevsky, I try always to take out all the literary parts. I try to go directly to the sentiments of the author and use only what can pass through me. I don’t want to make a film showing the work of Dostoevsky.”...
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