Bresson and the Problem of Mimesis

Thomas TAM

Research output: Journal PublicationsPolicy or Profession paperProfession


Is there a problem of mimesis in Bresson's conception of cinematography? How does Bresson situate his art in relation to this concept? Is the Bressonian system of cinematography not mimetic in nature after all? Everything in Notes on Cinematography seems to suggest the opposite. As we know, Bresson contrasts his art of cinematography to the art of the theatre. To him, the theatre is a conventionalized practice whose essence consists in the simulation of reality, whereas cinematography presents us with persons and objects such as they are in the real world. The theatre uses actors who act in an expressive way, whereas cinematography uses models who are expressionless. One is imitative, while the other should not be - ‘being' as against ‘seeming'. Bresson sums up the difference: ‘Cinematography films: emotional, not representational.' (NC, p. 90)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55 - 66
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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