viewed January 17, 2000 on video
information about this film, click
An oddly moving (in both senses of the word) film
much in the vein of Crime and Punishment, sharing with
the viewer the thrill of taking something from another
person while standing innocently besides them. The
joy of crime and the feeling of omnipotence it brings
has rarely been captured so viscerally. In one
brilliant sequence a team of pickpockets move
balletically through a train car, weaving around people
and taking their money as if they were invisible forces,
like the angels in Wings of Desire.
However, the feeling of guilt is always present, and
always being repressed by the protagonist, a lowly
unemployed man named Michel who hungers for the power
and glee that thievery offers him, and yet can't shake
the feeling of suffering consequences.
However, it is not the law he fears ("Will we be
judged? By what law?" he tells a police inspector),
but his own conscience. He has truly placed law
and moral judgment in his own hands -- but can he
Robert Bresson's blending of efficient storytelling,
energetic camerawork, and serious moral questions
presaged Scorsese. After seeing this film and A
Man Escaped, I wish I had more time to study
them. Bresson's films demand to be seen
repeatedly, to capture the nuance of their meaning and
the mastery of their technique.
Roger Ebert gives a fantastic review of Pickpocket here.