Where there are large groups of wealthy people, there will undoubtedly be pickpockets just waiting to relieve them of their money. Although, long gone are the days of people carrying around wads of cash. As cities grew so did poverty. This form of petty larceny became more and more prevalent. Criminals began working together, often in gangs, regularly using children as a way to avoid detection. One man’s temptation becomes too much in Pickpocket.
It’s 1950s Paris. One day, when he’s at the racetrack, something comes over Michel (Martin LaSalle). Compelling him to steal money from the handbag of a wealthy spectator. Buoyed by how easy it was, he’s immediately arrested as he tries to leave. Subsequently released due to lack of evidence. Despite attempts to control this compulsion, he’s caught the bug and begins to hone his skills. Eventually teaming up with a partner. However, no matter how hard he tries he can’t escape the feeling of impending doom.
Pickpocket is a wonderfully flowing character study which treads the border between sanity and lunacy. Michel needs money but is not prepared to work for it. Instead, taking it from people he views with disdain. Robert Bresson’s film is profoundly fatalistic and pessimistic, but holds itself aloof from the young man’s actions. Creating a thoughtful philosophical character study. Pickpocket is an absolute joy. A study in criminality.
- Presented in High Definition
- Robert Bresson Q&A (1971, audio only, 47 mins): the director in conversation with John Russell Taylor, recorded on stage at the NFT during the 15th London Film Festival
- Paul Schrader on Pickpocket (2022, 11 mins): Schrader discusses his relationship with Bresson’s film and how it has influenced him
- The Models of Pickpocket (2003, 52 mins): Babette Mangolte’s documentary tracks down Pickpocket’s performers to discuss their experiences of working with Bresson
- Archive shorts: Thefts From Handbags (1961, 1 min): British television spot warning women to watch out for thieves; Snatch of the Day (1975, 1 min): John Krish’s sporty public information film on the tricks of the pickpocketing trade; Four Men in Prison (1950, 41 mins): controversial drama-documentary from the Crown Film Unit using real-life prison situations to address the purpose of incarceration
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reissue trailer (2022)
- ***FIRST PRESSING ONLY*** Illustrated booklet featuring writing from Adrian Martin, Michael Brooke and Steven Foxon
Pickpocket is released on Blu-ray by the BFI on 11 July.