J. Hoberman at the New York Times:
Originally a painter, Bresson was a proponent of pure cinema, something he elaborates throughout “Bresson on Bresson.” Interviewed during the making of “Pickpocket,” he asserted his desire “to make a film of hands, glances, objects, refusing everything that is theatrical.” To that he later added: “More and more in my films, I’m trying to suppress what people call plot. Plot is for novelists.” In an interview given while “Pickpocket” was in release, he asserted that “films should not have subjects at all.”
In fact, Bresson’s films tended to focus on individual figures. Most of his movies can be seen as dramas of faith and bids for redemption — both on the part of the filmmaker and the central character, who in “Au Hasard Balthazar,” the 1970 movie widely considered his masterpiece, happens to be a donkey.
“Impossible tasks attract me,” Bresson told Le Figaro in 1949. “It’s good to create obstacles. I, at least, don’t work well without obstacles,” he said in a radio interview, conducted in English, at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival, where “The Trial of Joan of Arc” won a special jury prize. Five years later, he ended a conversation with the critic Georges Sadoul by musing, “I wonder if my films are worth the effort they require.”