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A Man Escaped–for a Dollar!

Recently I have been shocked and delighted to find how many books are available on amazon for $.01! Just today I found: A first novel, Younger Than Springtime, by Greg Williams (a writing colleague in my JHU writing workshop), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars for 97 cents, Dreams of My Summers by Andrew Mackine for a penny and now I find Andre Devigny’s A Man Escaped for a single cent.

I realize that Amazon still gets you with the $3.50 in postage costs, but still, this is nothing.

Also, an excellent introduction by Doug Cummings and Trond Trondsen to Robert Bresson’s film A Man Escaped. This is one of my alltime favorite films. I’d like to watch it again for one reason: how did it manage to keep my attention despite its slow pacing and total lack of action?

The film famously restricts itself to Fontaine’s immediate space throughout. The sense of claustrophobia and lack of omniscient perspective submerges the viewer into Fontaine’s world. In a bare, concrete cell with nothing but a bed and a barred window that displays a portion of an empty courtyard, the viewer shares Fontaine’s joy at the smallest of discoveries–a pencil or a spoon or a box of clothes. Sound reveals a tremendous amount of information: where the prison is situated, what surrounds it, who is near or far, what they are doing. When Fontaine decides to engineer his escape, beginning by scraping his door with a chiseled spoon, it establishes the central visual motif for the film–Fontaine, specifically his hands, interacting with his material environment, forcing his situation, challenging fate by taking advantage of every vagary of chance.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Greg Williams 6/18/2004, 10:17 pm

    Thanks for the mention, and for the good reading on your site. I’ve enjoyed catching up with you via your blog and am glad you managed to dodge all those bullets while in the Peace Corps!!
    Greg

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