Le vent souffle où il veut: Examinations of grace and despair in the works of Robert Bresson and Simone Weil

Plan Author

  • Eve Moeykens-Arballo, 2017

Fields of Concentration

  • Film and Video Studies
  • Languages

Sample Courses

  • Course: A Theoretical Study of Cinematography
  • Course: Intermediate French II
  • Tutorial: French Film Theory and Film Study
  • Tutorial: African Francophone Literature & History

Project Description

Three experimental film objects.

Faculty Sponsors

  • Jay Craven
  • Frederique Marty

Outside Evaluator

  • Jeffrey Rouff, Dartmouth College


This project is composed of five parts. The first part is a paper analyzing themes in two works: the text Gravity & Grace by Simone Weil and Un condamné à mort s’est échappé. The second part is a French “dissertation” on the significance of doors in relation to an increasing sense of despair in the last four films of Robert Bresson. The third part is a translation from the novel/memoir Jeune Fille by Anne Wiazemsky, the star of Au hazard Balthazar. The fourth part is a journal comprised of entries from a semester spent in France. The fifth part is a gallery show presenting three materialist experimental shorts and an artist statement.


In Gravity & Grace, Simone Weil suggests that man should not hope. Hoping for something is to desire that which one does not have. To desire is the same as to imagine. Weil says that “the imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.” To imagine things one does not have is, for Simone Weil, to take a step towards something. In Weil’s theology, grace can only enter a being if there is space to receive it. So, to receive grace, man must create a void in himself. To create this void, he has to give up everything which is not grace and even then, he must not desire grace. Going back to the idea of necessity, one must be in a state of active inaction to accept grace. This means not desiring anything as well as not hoping for anything. To hope is to have a goal, an inkling of something better. This is both an attachment and a consolation which “sweetens what is bitter.” Weil calls for the renunciation of the self. The renunciation of everything, including oneself requires an experience of anguish that is equivalent to the deepest of mourning. This anguish should not be “oriented towards a hope,” because it fills an emptiness that needs to be empty. Renunciation of hope is a part of the process of preparation for grace. Weil believed that by getting herself out of the way, she would arrive at God. However, there are more steps that follow in this process, such as the love of God despite everything.

Dans les quatre derniers films de Robert Bresson, l’augmentation du désespoir est souvent exprimée par les objets, en particulier les portes. Comme nous l’avons remarqué, ces portes fonctionnent comme une transition entre les plans, comme une délimitation d’un espace féminin, comme une barrière pour les personnages, et comme un passage vers le monde spirituel. Mais le monde bressonien de Quatre Nuits d’un Rêveur, Lancelot du Lac, Le Diable Probablement, jusqu’à L’Argent n’offre pas la possibilité de passer par la porte étroite. En effet, le choix des personnages de se détourner du Dieu et les limites auxquelles ils sont soumis aboutissent à l’absence de spiritualité et l’absence de Dieu, comme un cercle vicieux.


Late nights do stick out in my mind. I remember working in upper Woodard very late at night, when it was just me in the building. I learned that the pipes make a very loud sighing sound when they turn on to heat the space. The sound made me jump at first, but when I realized it wasn’t a person or… a ghost, I relaxed.

I really enjoyed my Plan show. It was the first time I was able to see my ideas realized just as I had imagined them. I hope to continue in translation, and to keep making my films.