Au Hasard Balthazar

Au Hasard Balthazar

4.8 5
Director: Robert Bresson

Cast: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, Jean-Claude Guilbert

     
 

Robert Bresson's acclaimed Au Hasard, Balthazar presents an unfettered view of human cruelty, suffering and injustice, filtered through the eyes of a donkey over the course of his long life. The burro at the film's center begins life peacefully and happily, as the unnamed play-object of some innocent children in bucolic France, but his circumstances changeSee more details below

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Overview

Robert Bresson's acclaimed Au Hasard, Balthazar presents an unfettered view of human cruelty, suffering and injustice, filtered through the eyes of a donkey over the course of his long life. The burro at the film's center begins life peacefully and happily, as the unnamed play-object of some innocent children in bucolic France, but his circumstances change dramatically when he becomes the property of a young woman named Marie - who christens him Balthazar. As she grows up and encounters tragedy and heartbreak, so does Balthazar; he passes from owner to owner, who treat him in a variety of ways, from compassionately to cruelly. The donkey, of course, lacks the capacity to comprehend the motivations of each individual but accepts whatever treatment (and role) is handed him, nobly and admirably. Bresson ultimately uses the story as a heart-rending allegorical commentary on human spiritual transcendence.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Wheeler Winston Dixon
Robert Bresson is one of the few directors in the history of world cinema who worked entirely on his terms and turf without interference from anyone, resolutely insisting that his vision of the world was nearer the mark than his contemporaries, and pursuing a directorial style which is so uniquely his own that there is no mistaking a Bresson film for a work by any other director. A devout Catholic, Bresson made only 14 films in his 50-year career as a director, a measure of how seriously he planned each next project. Au Hasard Balthazar is, like most of Bresson's films, a religious parable. Here, the lead character is a donkey, christened Balthazar early in the film, who endures endless punishment from a variety of cruel masters and crueler circumstances, until, at the end of the film, he finally and peacefully dies, and, by implication, is welcomed into paradise. As in all his films, Bresson uses his actors (whom he habitually referred to as "models") in the sparest possible manner. Much is told through gesture alone, and speech and music are kept to a minimum. In his direction of the players, Bresson strips down their mannerisms until they disappear, and only the essence of their humanity appears on the screen. Balthazar's life is one of unrelieved pain and sadness, yet one gets the sense that the donkey stoically accepts this sad lot as his predestined fate without complaint, certain of his eventual spiritual salvation Much has been written about this film, and it remains as powerful today as when first released; it is a reminder of a time when films of considerable artistic ambition could still be assured of reasonable returns at the box office, unlike today. In the blockbuster climate of 21st century cinema, Au Hasard Balthazar seems like a miracle, a breath of fresh air from another time and place, in which both artistic originality and the human spirit were equally valued. Compelling, humbling, and stunning in its visual construction, Au Hasard Balthazar is a one-of-a-kind film from an absolutely unique filmmaker.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/14/2005
UPC:
0037429207420
Original Release:
1966
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:35:00
Sales rank:
6,669

Special Features

New, restored high-defintion digital transfer; New video interview with film scholar Donald Richie; "Un Metteur En Ordre: Robert Bresson," a 1966 French television show about the film, featuring Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, and members of Balthazar's cast and crew ; Original theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation; Plus: A new essay by film scholar James Quandt

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Logos/Opening Credits [1:52]
2. Baptized "Balthazar" [4:13]
3. Marie and Balthazar [5:08]
4. Gérard and His Gang [1:39]
5. Spying on Marie [3:20]
6. Gossip [2:26]
7. Jacques Returns [3:00]
8. Giving Up Balthazar [5:41]
9. Marie and Gérard [5:47]
10. Money Missing [4:56]
11. Accusations of Murder [5:14]
12. Arnold Takes Balthazar [6:42]
13. Circus Animals [4:50]
14. News for Arnold [5:27]
15. Long Live Arnold [4:53]
16. Sold to the Miser [3:24]
17. Food and Shelter [7:35]
18. Settle a Debt [1:36]
19. Jacques Proposes [3:28]
20. Brutal Attack [3:27]
21. Two Parents Grieve [3:06]
22. Another Robbery [4:37]
23. A Shepherd's Field [2:50]
24. Color Bars [:00]
1. On the Meaning of Balthazar [5:45]
2. Bresson on the Title [4:41]
3. Actress Anne Wiazemsky [5:18]
4. Actor François Lafarge [3:17]
5. Marie and Balthazar [4:12]
6. Actor Pierre Klossowski [7:58]
7. The Presence of God [7:07]
8. Cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet [4:50]
9. Bresson on Actors and Writing [18:48]

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