1966 / 95m - France
Au Hasard Balthazar poster


August 01, 2020


A typical Bresson. His cold, dry and wooden minimalism isn't really my cup of tea, the most amusing thing about Au Hasard Balthazar is watching Bresson struggle with his animal, a donkey who isn't susceptible to his directing tactics and is hell-bent on becoming the most natural and humane character in his entire oeuvre. Spoiler alert: I think he succeeded.

The donkey is the focus of the film, as he is passed around and ends up in all kinds of different predicaments. Most people mistreat the animal, but at least they're consistent in mistreating other people too. Bresson's vision of the French countryside is grim and misanthropic, which explains the stark black and white cinematography, stripping the film from whatever summery vibe the outside scenes offered him.

There's a lot of symbolism, referencing Christianity and society, but I didn't get the impression Bresson had anything valuable to say with it. The style of acting in his film is absolutely atrocious, the stuttery editing didn't really help either. Still, this is one of the better Bresson's I've seen so far, even though that doesn't say much.