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Diary of a Country Priest / Journal d’un curé de campagne (1951)


“Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d’un curé de campagne)” is a 1951 French film about the hardship of a young priest who was assigned to a small village. It was a film adaptation of the novel of the same name (1936) by Georges Bernanos, and it was produced faithfully to the original. Written and directed by Robert Bresson. The third feature-length film by Bresson. Black and white. 115 minutes.


A young priest (Claude Laydu) is assigned to work in the village of Ambricourt in northern France.

He is alienated from the village people for his idealism.

One of the girls of the catechism class, Séraphita plays pranks on him, and laughs at him.

He has nothing but wine and bread because of his stomach disease. His colleagues criticize his poor diet and his ascetic lifestyle.

Louise, who is a tutor for Chantal, the daughter of the Count, consults him about Chantal. Chantal hates her father and Louise because her father is having an affair with Louise.

He visits the chateau of the Count, and talks with the Countess. Though she had lost faith in God since she had lost her son, he restores faith to her.

However, she dies suddenly from a heart attack during the following night. Chantal spreads false rumors that the priest’s harsh words had quickened her death.


In this film, Bresson established his own minimalist production techniques called “cinématographe”, which are characterized by the use of non-professional actors and the elimination of histrionic acting and expression.

The film won many awards, including the International Award and the Italian Film Critics Award at the Venice International Film Festival, and the Prix Louis Delluc.

In 1972, Andrei Tarkovsky ranked the film number one in his top ten films of all time.

Writer and director Paul Schrader was significantly influenced by the film. When he wrote the screenplay of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976), the leading character of the film inspired him in modeling the character of Travis Bickle. The film “First Reformed” (2017) written and directed by Schrader was strongly influenced by the film.

Diary of a Country Priest 1951 Trailer Robert Bresson Criterion Collection