Au Hasard Balthazar

Inspired in part by the donkey anecdote in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, Bresson cast Balthazar the donkey as the central character of a film. Passed from one owner to the next, his life and death are as mysterious, if not as meaningless, as any of theirs. But his eyes, as captured in Bresson's fragmented framing, intimate an understanding that is 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 in similar ways 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.

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