Country life -- France -- Drama, Donkeys -- Drama, Working class -- France -- Social conditions -- Drama, Youth -- France -- Moral conditions -- Drama

Au hasard Balthazar



Anne Wiazemsky, François Lafarge, Walter Green, Philippe Asselin,

Inspired in part by the donkey anecdote in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, Bresson cast Balthazar the donkey as the central character. Passed from one owner to the next, Balthazar is both witness to and victim of their stories, their suffering, their violence. His life and death are as mysterious, if not meaningless, as any of theirs. If anything, Balthazar’s deep eyes, as captured in Bresson’s fragmented framing, intimate an understanding lost to the blank-faced peasants. He is the transcendent Bressonian actor. The other main figure in the film is a young farm girl who befriends Balthazar and suffers some of his fate in the grip of her passion for a leather-jacketed motorcyclist. Bresson was interested not only in the biblical image of the donkey—his patience, his humility—but in the Greek and Roman concept of the donkey as a symbol of sexuality. The film is at once extremely sensual and a work of unearthly sensitivity.

Judy Bloch
  • Robert Bresson
  • Ghislain Cloquet
  • French
  • English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 95 mins
  • Rialto Pictures

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Au hasard Balthazar documents  

Being and donkeyness : bresson's majestic masterpiece (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 2005

Au hasard Balthazar (review), Reader (Chicago, Ill.), Dave Kehr, 2004

Au hasard Balthazar (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 2003

Au hasard Balthazar (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1999

The poetry of precision: the films of Robert Bresson (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 1998

Robert Bresson (press kit), Pacific Film Archive, 1998

Revivals in focus -- excerpt (review), Village Voice, Tom Allen, 1987

Au hasard Balthazar (synopsis), 1973

Beast of burden (article), Velvet Light Trap, Russell Campbell, 1973

Hot breath of revolution (review), The Staff, Bill Nichols, 1972

Displaying 10 of 24 publicly available documents.

View all Au hasard Balthazar documentation on CineFiles.