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L’argent: Talking Money

Narration is simple explanation to tell the story. Cinematic language shows that there are many different ways to explain scenes, and create a variety of approaches for the audience. Robert Bresson was one of the most important narrators to shape mise-en-scene for showing impulse. The actions of people, and the background information, create some of the main ideas about character motivations in cinema. That’s why Bresson used these motivations to create a world which has basic emotions and impulses.

L’argent is about existence, and the narrative is shaped by money in this film. Like Pickpocket, Bresson showed the money as a tool, which can communicate in many ways with people. L’argent was released in 1983, and this particular movie’s narration is still so important for today’s cinematic language.


In the beginning, the movie is opens with shots of cashpoints (ATMs). The film tells us that the main character is cash itself. In this way, character’s journey is money’s position in society. After the 80’s, globalization resulted in huge changes around the world, so the historical approach and the new era also has a big, important part to play in the movie’s narration. So, in this sense, post-modern culture, individualism, miscommunication, are products of the 80’s. Existence depends on materialistic resolutions. Individuals can not show their attitudes without such material means, like money, in this world.

Bresson prefers to show alienation effect. Actors are generally acting in a dull way, with unemotional expressions and stiff behaviors show up for the audiences. Fake sensations are important at this point, because money creates artificiality, so acting is shaped by this artificiality in L’argent. Bresson’s perception, the world’s change is linked between the language of money and society’s double dealing.

In Pickpocket (1959), Bresson showed an individual’s inner world. This is more existential subject than the world of L’argent. However, the means of existence is change in the meantime. In Pickpocket, Michel’s drive of pickpocketing is about his past, his mother issues, those childhood traumas, and reason for his existence. On the other hand, in L’argent, Yvon Targe suffers from life’s injustice. Actually, this stiuation is like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Yvon is on the rock bottom of the chart. His living depends on the basic needs of continuation of life. That money almost carries out the daily routines, to create new needs for living. And this is the fresh challenge, also the product of the new world.

L’argent shows the story of 500 francs. There is illegal 500 franc note, and this money is passed from hand to hand. When people can understand that this 500 franc is illegal, society looks for a victim, because they wants to see helpless people rise. To this point, rising is about rotten worth. When poor communication, or lovelessness, mercilessness rises, people think that individualism also has to rise to develop a powerful society. That’s why, society needs the victim, to undertake their sins, their repressed emotions. And they must be punished accordingly.


In this situation, Yvon is locked in jail, and he begins to quesiton or have contempt, for justice. The 500 franc note is a tool in this situation. Money creates two different perceptions in L’argent: The world of lonely individuals, and the needs of society. Ruling classes and lower classes come face to face in this way. That’s one of the main issue after the 80’s. Creating new moral rules thst shape a powerful ruling class, but ordinary people are usually the victim position in the new system.

L’argent actually show that this new systems’ reasons and results. Robert Bresson construct the world which can talk with money, and the movie’s visuals and semantic world are shaped by stolidity of money. This tells the future world’s view in 1983 – that’s the Bresson’s prodigiousness.


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