#82. A Man Escaped (1956)
Directed by: Robert Bresson
Written by: Robert Bresson
Starring: Francois Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod
Robert Bresson’s prison break film A Man Escaped is the closest movie I’ve seen to being the dictionary definition of “slow burn”. It clips along at a very deliberate pace, but not a single frame of Bresson’s film is wasted – nor is any moment boring or torturous in a negative sense. A Man Escaped is the kind of film that makes viewers squirm in their seat due to its sheer intensity – our protagonist comes so close to ruin on so many occasions, and you’re convinced that the next close call will be his final moment. A Man Escaped sees a young French Lieutenant named Fontaine as he is captured by the occupying Nazi forces, and subsequently taken to a high security prison where he is beaten and locked away. The young Fontaine immediately goes to work at trying to escape the confines of the prison, acquiring supplies from fellow inmates and working very slowly and quietly so as to not be caught. Fontaine’s cell is routinely moved or inspected, leading to him coming close to being found out a number of times. Along the way he makes friends with prisoners he can only talk to from his cell, all while evading detection and working away at an escape route. Bresson’s A Man Escaped is quite possibly one of the most intense, most rewarding procedural films I’ve ever seen – each watch of the film gets better and better. Even upon rewatches, I constantly find myself asking if the young Fontaine will be found out, or writhing at each sudden sound or movement coming from the Fontaine and the prison guards. It’s certainly a slow watch, but the journey taken in A Man Escaped is absolutely worth every agonizing minute.