Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Au Hasard Balthazar
The sad life and death of Balthazar, a donkey, from an idyllic childhood surrounded by loving children, through adulthood as a downtrodden beast of burden. His life is paralleled with that of the girl who named him, and as she is humiliated by her sadistic lover, so he is beaten by his owner. But he finds a kind of peace when he is employed by an old miller who thinks he is a reincarnated saint... Written by Michael Brooke
Robert Bresson has an insane 7 films on the Sight and Sound list.
Now, I may or may not possess the Malick gene, the jury is still out, but having watched two Bressons now (this and Pickpocket) I'm almost certain I do not possess a Bresson gene.
Maybe...completely devoid of the Bresson gene.
This is, without a doubt, the main director that is so critically praised and universally loved and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why. To put it bluntly - these two films are shit. I know I'll catch some flack for that statement, but I stand by it wholeheartedly...for now. Maybe, down the road I'll come to see Au Hasard Balthazar in a new light.…
Please, please, please just read Matthew Ekstrom's review. I am far too teary to even think about writing anything about this film. Plus, I don't think that I could even write anything as perfect and beautiful as his review. 'Au Hasard Balthazar' is a truly powerful experience and one of the most beautiful films ever made. Now excuse me while I go cry my eyes out.
A very slow, very moving take on the burden that is life, Bresson's classic assigns a good deal of its audiences' sympathies to the simple eyes of a donkey. In the hands of a great director he makes for a brilliant protagonist, and that's exactly what Bresson proves himself (this is my first of his). There's a particularly majestic scene that sees our hero exchanging glances with a series of caged circus animals; it's impossible to describe with words just how much it affects you. Bresson has the ability to imbue his scenes with remarkably underscored meaning, from the emotional intensity behind every glance to the many religious parallels the story draws. I'm not sure I was quite as open to it as I should have been—certainly a fault of my mood rather than the film—but the achievement here is undeniably stunning.
"Au Hasard Balthazar" explores the unfathomable cruelty of human existence and the cowardice that creates a failure to love. And yet at the same time, this film, which reveals everything I care to know of evil, seems to spring forth from a boundless well of empathy within its creator.
This is the work of a truly great artist, perhaps the great film artist. I cannot imagine watching it and coming away unchanged.
"Besides, he's a saint."
I had no idea Au Hasard Balthazar was about a sad donkey. I had just heard the name a lot throughout the years and heard it was a touching story. I've never really been pulled in by stories about animals, but there's something soulful about this particular film that sets it apart from the easy sentimentality and schmaltz of the other films about animals I've seen. Despite the touching story, I can't lie about the fact that it put me to sleep multiple times.
It's really the acting and editing that put me off the most. The acting looked like it was mostly done by amateurs, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but…
Au Hasard Balthazar is a poetic and spiritual motion picture by the oft praised Robert Bresson. This is my first experience with his films and as I have seen like two French New Wave movies I can't really see how influential he truly is.
I liken Balthazar to a stoic sage. It's easy to forget his presence seeing as he has very minimal screen time, but his scenes are by far the most moving. The shots of his eyes, in particular, impress me the most; through these shots you can see how human and empathetic Balthazar is. In fact, he's the only character that should really be sympathized with.
I can't help but think that I missed something critical. Sure…
Something is blocking me from out and out loving Bresson (though the beginning and end of this are pretty amazing), so you can take this rating with a grain of salt (same with Pickpocket). Trying to figure out what exactly that is.
Robert Bresson's masterpiece "Au Hasard Balthazar" was a long and ponderous process but the caveat was on the walls through the synopsis and I knew I wasn't going for a rolling good time when I embark on the film.
Actually it was not hard to get in though I was not tuned to sympathize to the plight of either the girl or the donkey; of course the latter did not choose to be under the ownership of the humans he encountered throughout his life, but certainly the girl who I would addressed as a 1960s Gallic Jennifer Alba really asked for a lot of punishment dished out to her especially with the 1960s Gallic Eric Brischoff asshole who had not…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Unfortunately I didn't feel a connection to this as other people have. Maybe I need to watch it again. Still a good movie, but my least favorite of Bresson's so far, and still a good movie.
I think the conclusion I drew from "Balthazar At Random" (literal translation!) is that I just don't like the French New Wave. I know that probably sounds ignorant, but I've seen all the big ones -- "Jules Et Jim," "The 400 Blows," "Alphaville," "Le Samourai," etc., etc., etc. -- and I still just can't get into them.
I do like the conceit of "Balthazar," and what it was trying to accomplish, but I don't think it was executed all that well. Basically, Balthazar is this donkey who we see from being a young calf (is it called a calf?) all the way through its old age and final resting.
So obviously the story isn't really "about" Balthazar, but the stories…
Beautiful film. The black and white photography is simply stunning, and the use of different depths of focus is masterful. The camera's focus on gestures and movement, normally over facial expression, emphasises a physicality, a brutality within the world in which everything is experienced through often rough, and only rarely sensual, contact.
Character motivation is rather enigmatic and there is very little exposition in this regard, which is actually a good thing.
The one sequence which was perhaps a step too far was the sudden use of the Donkey in the circus act. It felt like the film suddenly changed tone completely, and although comical and charming, it felt at odds with the rest of the film.
The most endearing donkey in movies!
I'm still crying.
This may be one of the saddest films I've ever seen. I never thought a film revolving around a donkey would ever impact me as much as it did, emotionally. Bresson created a story of life in a way that felt so... well, human. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to seeing animals get treated terribly than I am to humans (minus kids)? Or maybe the fact it felt so real was because we all could be Balthazar? It depicts human cruelty with a beautiful rawness and you empathize with it. Balthazar has no control over the beatings he takes, the weight he must carry, the love he receives on occasion--he just accepts the pain and care because that's all he…
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
- Citizen Kane
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Tokyo Story
- The Rules of the Game