Robert Bresson

A painter before becoming a filmmaker, French director Robert Bresson brought a new artistic language to cinema through a minimalist style that fused sound and painting, and employed amateur actors to remove all vestiges of theatricality.

Born Sept. 25, 1901, in Bromont-Lamothe, France, Bresson turned his attention to movies in the 1930s, first as a screenwriter and then as a director. Exploring the themes of spiritual grace and redemption that would resonate throughout his work, he made his feature-film debut with Les Anges du Peche (1943), the story of a nun who sacrifices her life to save a murderer's soul.

During World War II, Bresson spent more than a year as a German prisoner of war, an experience that shaped what many consider his masterpiece, A Man Escaped (1956). His other important works include The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) and L'Argent (1983). Bresson died Dec. 18, 1999.