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A Feature film by Robert Bresson

Produced by Agnes Delahaie Productions

Release in France : 20/12/1959

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Actors (9)

Production and distribution (3)

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Diaphana Films

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Michel (Martin Lasalle) goes to a horse race and steals some money from a spectator. He leaves the racetrack confident he was not caught when he's suddenly arrested. The inspector (Jean Pélégri) releases Michel because the evidence is not strong enough; Michel says it's not a crime to have cash.

Visiting his mother, Michel meets Jeanne (Marika Green) who begs him to visit his mother more often. Jacques goes on a date with Jeanne and invites Michel along. But after stealing a watch, Michel leaves Jacques and Jeanne at the carnival. While in a bar the inspector asks Michel to show him a book by George Barrington about pickpocketing at the station on a convenient morning, and Michel goes down to the police station with it. Once there, the inspector barely glances at the book. Michel goes back to his apartment realizing that it was all just a ruse to search his apartment. However, the cops failed to find his stash of money.

Michel's mother dies, and he goes to the funeral with Jeanne. Later, the inspector visits Michel in his apartment, and tells him that his mother had had some money stolen, but later dropped the charges, probably figuring it was her son who stole the money. The inspector then just leaves, and Michel decides to leave the country.

Returning to France, Michel goes back to steal at the horse track, where he is caught redhanded by the police. Jeanne goes to visit him in jail.


Pickpocket is considered an example of "parametric narration" (in which the style "dominates the plot or is seemingly equal in importance to it".

Roger Ebert sees echoes of Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" in this film. "Bresson's Michel, like Dostoyevsky's hero Raskolnikov, needs money in order to realize his dreams, and sees no reason why some lackluster ordinary person should not be forced to supply it. The reasoning is immoral, but the characters claim special privileges above and beyond common morality. Michel, like the hero of Crime and Punishment, has a 'good woman' in his life, who trusts he will be able to redeem himself. ... She comes to Michel with the news that his mother is dying. Michel does not want to see his mother, but gives Jeanne money for her. Why does he avoid her? Bresson never supplies motives. We can only guess."

Pickpocket exerted a formative influence over the work of Paul Schrader, who has described it as "an unmitigated masterpiece" and "as close to perfect as there can be", and whose films American Gigolo, Patty Hearst, and Light Sleeper all include endings similar to that of Pickpocket. In addition, his screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver bears many similarities, including confessional narration and a voyeuristic look at society. Schrader's admiration for Pickpocket led to his contribution in an extra in The Criterion Collection's DVD release in 2005.

Pickpocket has been paraphrased by other films, such as Leos Carax's The Lovers on the Bridge.

Source : Wikipedia

Photos (6)

Full credits (13)

Executive Producer :

Agnès Delahaie

Adapter/dialogue writer :

Robert Bresson

Director of Photography :

Léonce-Henri Burel

Assistant Operator :

André Du Breuil

Editor :

Raymond Lamy

Production Designer :

Pierre Charbonnier

Location Manager :

Michel Choquet

Assistant directors :

Michel Clément, Claude Clément

Screenwriter :

Robert Bresson

Sound Recordist :

Antoine Archimbaud

Camera Operator :

Henri Raichi

Continuity supervisor :

Odette Lemarchand

Art Director :

Pierre Guffroy

Technical details

Feature film

Genres :


Sub-genre :

Psychological drama

Themes :


Production language :


Production country :


Original French-language productions :


Nationality :

100% French (France)

Production year :


French release :


Runtime :

1 h 14 min

Current status :


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Approval :


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Color type :

Black & White

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Posters (7)


News (2)

Festival Selections (4)

AFI FEST - 2013

AFI FEST (United States, 2013)


Guest Artistic Director

Berlin International Film Festival - 1960

Berlin International Film Festival (Germany, 1960)


Official Competition