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  • Criterion Collection: Au Hasard Balthazar [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Criterion Collection: Au Hasard Balthazar [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

20 customer reviews

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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Criterion Collection: Au Hasard Balthazar [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Pickpocket [DVD] [1959] + A Man Escaped [DVD]
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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00092ZLEY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,303 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 3 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD
Other reviewers have discussed the film so well that the prospect of adding something seems almost presumptuous; nevertheless I would add that the film appeals to me precisely because a certain sentimental enjoyment necessarily arises by virtue of the donkey's sweetness, his solidity being set against his helplessness. This mystery of appearances can then be added to all the other paradoxes Bresson is concerned with. One of the things I find is how much I forget the complicated plot after seeing it - except that the girl falls for a thug who is completely unworthy of her. In this sense each viewing is a kind of rediscovery as it comes back, but what I do retain is a sense of the purity of the animal as set against the compromises and skulduggery of the human world. The moment when it canters off into a field, thinking it has found freedom (alas for all too short a time, as it turns out) is joyous, and the final scene where it is in the field with all the sheep, played out against Schubert's sublime inspiration, is infinitely affecting. You are left feeling the dignity of Balthazar, his pathos, and with a sense of the terrible sadness of neglect.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Mar. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie follows the life of a donkey - Balthazar - and the people he comes in contact with. Bresson makes it a classic - some saying Balthazar incorporates the stoicism and taking on the sins (and punishment) of others as a metaphor for Christ. Whether that is so or not will remain to be judged by each viewer but the beauty of this overall relatively tragic story is that neither Balthazar, nor Marie - one of the owners and the female protagonist - see themselves as victims. They endure.

The story gone through in a relatively short movie is amazing and the cinematography, music / sound effects are simply astounding, as is the symbolism of the movie. In spite of the message of predestination, drudgery of life (both for the donkey and the humans coming into contact with it), difficulty of adolescence etc. Bresson still manages to sneak in the odd humorous moment (the painters renting out Balthazar describing action painting).

This is not a happy movie and does not make for easy watching - as mentioned by the other reviewers Bresson did not shot movies for commercial success. But the movie is strangely fulfilling nevertheless, and one can return to it many times - something that will make you discover new elements and get a deeper appreciation of it every time you see it. In that sense it is a true masterpiece of cinema and something definitely worthwhile having on DVD.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 30 July 2005
Format: DVD
"Au Hasard, Balthazar" was made in 1966 and was followed in 1967 by "Mouchette", the only time Robert Bresson made films in successive years. His final black and white works, they are often linked critically as the peak of his cinematographic skill. Themes spill over from the earlier to the later film - Bresson seems to have felt the need to resolve issues of teenage alienation and the bleak future which can face adolescents.
Robert Bresson (1901-1999) began directing in 1934. His thirteen feature films, made between 1943-1983, achieved great critical acclaim, marked Bresson as a major influence on many European and American directors, yet never achieved box office success. Bresson made the films he wanted to make, striving at all times for visual impact; the majority of his films were in black and white - he demonstrates great visual control in this medium. And the visual element can be emphatic - his films are often sparse in their use of dialogue while Bresson makes exaggerated use of natural sound effects (wind, rain, footsteps, creaking boards).
Bresson used unknown or amateur actors - no big names, no easy familiarity with the faces on the screen. He wanted his audience to concentrate on the story and its emotions, even if his style might make these enigmatic, if not cryptic. Note the opening scenes of "Balthazar" - a dying child, a school teacher in an empty class, references which will have later import but which flash by inconsequentially.
Bresson began as a painter and often referred to his actors as 'models' - they were there to provide visual images. They were stripped of emotion - he didn't want them to portray emotion as a public show, but to exhibit something more transcendent.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1966 work by Robert Bresson really is like no other work of cinema that I can recall. Of course, one of the well-established maxims of working in film (and TV) is never to work with animals or children, but here Bresson breaks both these 'rules', focusing on the story of a donkey, Balthazar, the trials and tribulations of whose life are portrayed as a spiritual allegory for the shortcomings of this 'beast of burden's' human counterparts. Not surprisingly perhaps, Bresson's film is not exactly a barrel of laughs, being shot in his trademark minimalist style and with largely deadpan performances from his cast of non-professional actors, but I found myself being increasingly drawn into what is a profound and moving (but fundamentally unsentimental) tale.

The sensorial appeal of Bresson's film is conveyed via Ghislain Cloquet's stark, black-and-white cinematography, full of Bresson-style off-kilter camera angles and truncated camera shots, and the haunting piano music of Schubert (with some 'modern' jazzy content courtesy of Jean Weiner), which is overlaid on Balthazar's tale, as he is passed between various owners (some kindly, but mostly not), thereby overseeing (and experiencing) the vagaries of humankind. Anne Wiazemsky's impressive, and deluded, daughter Marie, shows initial kindness to Balthazar, before being tempted by cruel, criminal gang member, Gérard (a similarly impressive performance by François Lafarge). The perils, and negative effects, of drunkenness are also convincingly brought home by Jean-Cluade Guilbert's portrayal of the wayward down-and-out, Arnold, whose wrath Balthazar is also forced to suffer.
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