The Impassioned Eye: A documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson.

“‘Taking pictures means holding your breath with all your faculties concentrated on capturing a fleeting reality,’ declares the pioneering photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson near the end of Heinz Butler’s austere documentary portrait. In this small but stately film, completed a year before the pioneering photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson’s death at 95 in August 2004, he slowly leafs through volumes of his black-and-white photographs, shows some of his later drawings and muses on his art to the severe, prickly strains of Bach piano music. Even when viewed secondhand in a movie, these photographs are something to see. Their formal elegance is balanced by an intense, pulsing humanity. The documentary, which subscribes to the Great Man school of reverential portraiture, is not a biography but an interview (in French, simultaneously translated into English) conceived as a master class on art appreciation, with guest commentators augmenting Cartier-Bresson’s own sparsely chosen words. — Stephen Holden, New York Times

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