Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

France/Sweden, 1966.  Argos Films, Athos Films, Parc Film, Svensk Filmindustri, Svenska Filminstitutet.  Screenplay by Robert Bresson.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Life, as it turns out, is really something else when seen through the eyes of a donkey. This exquisite tone poem by the great Robert Bresson is a beautiful tale about Balthazar, a donkey who is born to a loving family and then sold to a farming family whose daughter Marie becomes a sort of spiritual protector of her beloved animal.

From there, our four-legged hero is passed to several masters, whose treatment of him varies from passive kindness to brutal cruelty, all of it reflecting back on their own lives and their eventual outcomes. Filmed with grace and deceptive simplicity, the film almost reaches the depth of a religious parable with its iconic, pure-of-heart hero and the variety of adventures that befall him. A masterpiece.

The Criterion Collection:  #297

Venice Film Festival:  In Competition


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