Au Hasard Balthazar

Voted one of the twenty greatest films of all time in the latest Sight & Sound
poll of 846 international film critics and scholars, Au Hasard Balthazar is
not only a masterpiece, but a film that stands apart for its way of inviting
interpretation while resisting it and for recording material reality with a hard,
unflinching eye that nonetheless constantly evokes the sublime. It is also
that rare film that places an animal at its center—the donkey Balthazar—
without endowing it with human traits: by remaining an animal, the character
of Balthazar magnifies the humanity of the people he encounters—for better
and, most often, for worse. Balthazar’s story begins when he is taken from his
mother to be a plaything for some children in the French countryside. Over the
course of his life, he will be the companion to Marie, a haunted, passive young
woman, the victim of a small-time thug who desires her, a beast of burden for
a homeless drunk, a circus animal, and the property of a heartless miser. As
Balthazar passes from one owner to the next, from one vice to another, always
a humble witness, director Robert Bresson paints a picture of cruelty and
innocence that many have seen as a Christian allegory. Is Balthazar’s life the
life of a saint? Bresson leaves the viewer to answer, speaking first to the heart
and forever after to the restless mind.

Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson

Anne Wiazemsky
Walter Green
François Lefarge

95 min.
France, 1966

Rialto Pictures