A book-length study of the films of Robert Bresson and the art of cinema. French cinema director, Robert Bresson, has made thirteen feature films, all enjoying high critical acclaim and many receiving distinguished awards. Yet, scholarly attention to the "Bressonian style," often results in a vision of his career as something other than, even alien to, the normal development of cinema. Bresson's films appear distant or difficult despite the simplicity of the narrative and the naturalistic mode of filming. Perhaps the difficulty of a Bresson film derives from the fact that his narratives are parables and his surfaces are stripped of the "screens" of suspense and spectacle that are practically essential for the comprehension of the average viewer. This study proposes a way to speak about cinema and its development that would place Bresson's work at the center of the history of filmmaking. The theoretical portion that precedes a film-by-film analysis explores the struggle of cinema to transform itself from a folk art into a fine art, from a mode that emphasizes story, climax and décor—elements borrowed from popular theatre and fiction—to one that stresses the lyrical possibilities of the art form. Through this struggle cinema begins Io align itself with a poetic process. Bresson's way of using only the surface of narrative, and of emphasizing two-dimensional images, frontal and medium shots, and consciousness and feeling instead of character and event, suggests an alliance with the poetic rather than with the narrative and the dramatic. This approach to cinema offers possibilities beyond the Bresson film because it points to the tension which arises when an art form straddles the world of popular culture and fine art. Thus, the work of Bresson is seen to be not peripheral to the history of cinema but central to its destiny.