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
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.
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.…
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…
Dammit!!! I realized too late that I'm fresh out of tissues! Just ruined another t-shirt...
I cannot manage a way to translate my experience with this film into words. So, I won't.
a truly courageous depiction of suffering. the manner in which Balthazar suffers through the myriad of heartbreaking acts of abuse against him is hard to watch, and all the more affecting because of it. many of Marie's struggles parallel those of Balthazar's, and although they are very different characters, their lives follow a similar trajectory. Bresson accomplished an incredible feat by creating such a powerful, moving, and daring piece that succeeds in everything it sought out to do.
Au Hasard Balthazar, Robert Bresson’s masterpiece of the sixties, tracks the life of a donkey who is born, passed from one vile master to the other, and dies. Though it is in many ways a twin of Mouchette, Bresson’s followup film, it eclipses its successor through the specificity with which it deals with violence. Many of those who exploit Balthazar do so for selfish means, or, in the case of the suspected murderer, motivations that are linked to substance abuse more than personal depravity. The young Gerard, who is perhaps the film’s purest form of evil, is the only character whose intentions are somewhat abstract. His is a senseless violence, a suggestion of the masochism of the new generation. Gerard…
God bless that ass.
This movie is the donkeys balls.
Manipulative yes, but also gut wrenching and emotionally harsh. Interesting concept with some powerful moments, but the characters are a little one dimensional and only there to highlight a specific area of society. Probably get better after a second viewing.
I really wish I liked this. I've actually been embarrassingly, consistently pleased with Bresson so far, and with BALTHAZAR I think he's made what's aesthetically one his most beautiful film yet. And apart from a few sequences which I think are pretty terrific (Balthazar at the circus, and Marie having run away from home at the greedy mans house), I was never on this films wavelength and i'm generally a fan of films that make you feel suffering or attempt to didactically reflect how the world works. For a start, I tend to try to distance myself from animals being hurt on screen, especially when I understand how frequently it used to comment on human cruelty (I will never…
I'm almost positive that this will become a 5 star review upon my next viewing (my problem: I can't tell French people apart, apparently). Another masterpiece from an indisputable king of cinema.
- 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
- The Rules of the Game
- Tokyo Story
Another year, another update. 2012 List can be found here.
The following is a really extensive and great list of…