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…
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.
he first time i saw this movie i asked myself one question "How is it possible for a human mind to make such a movie"?
Poignant,devastating,sublime,poetic,tragic,beautiful are the adjectives that come to my mind every time i think of this movie...
Life is cruel...it just goes on and on and on no matter what happens to you...because situations do not care about your well being..
It's like seeing the world thru the eyes of a tortured and noble soul...
And when the movie did get over i felt a strange calmness engulf me...i realized now that is the power of cinema...
Some of the most stunningly beautiful black-and-white photography I have ever experienced. (The excellent quality of the high-definition Criterion scan on Hulu Plus deserves some mention here, too. The projected image looked as sharp and clean as any blu-ray.)
it's remarkable for the way Bresson infuses the actors (donkey and human alike) with character, and states his film with simplicity to underscore that fact
The "donkey is jesus" film threatens become really silly at every moment. Its endless tangents and seeming lack of direction can be, and in many ways still are, really frustrating but once it ends you get the increasing suspicion that you've watched one of the most all-encompassing movies ever made.
Everything with the donkey is top-notch. Bresson's acting style is tough at first, but you get used to it after awhile (I think it worked better in A Man Escaped because you understood that the characters were trying to stay calm and keep their emotions in check).
Of course, putting an ass in the lead isn't necessarily horseshit. But I'm not entirely sure this movie know where it want go to. At least, I'm not there at all..
The donkey should have won an Oscar. Overall, a movie which I will definitely re-watch in some time to get the proper meaning.
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