Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Directed in 1959 by Robert Bresson, Pickpocket is a film that is at times a character study of the main character Michel, and also a meditation on the question of the ethics of theft. The acting in the film is purposefully stark, with the actors showing little emotion. This is characteristic of a Bresson film. In doing this, it forces the audience to think about the overall questions the film poses and to more closely consider things like setting, lighting, music, etc. It also makes the moments that actors do use strong emotion stand out in a more dramatic way.
There is an interesting relationship between Michel and the police officer in the film. The police officer suspects, or arguably knows, that Michel is a pickpocket but has no way of proving it. In a cafe, Michel and his friend Jaques have a philosophical discussion with the police officer concerning the ethics of theft. Michel poses his theory that stealing can sometimes be justified if it is done by someone who is of great intellectual value to society, and therefore someone who can be trusted to steal if they feel they are justified. The officer disagrees because there would be no way of deciding who these individuals are. This sets up an unusual antagonist/protagonist relationship between a criminal and a police officer.

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