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Au Hasard Balthazar [DVD] [1966]

Anne Wiazemsky , Walter Green , Robert Bresson    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: £7.38 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Au Hasard Balthazar [DVD] [1966] + A Man Escaped [DVD] + Pickpocket [DVD] [1959]
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Product details

  • Actors: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Aug 2013
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008VFEM3M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,619 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Revered director Robert Bresson's celebrated masterpiece is the seemingly simple yet profoundly moving and deeply affecting tale of Balthazar, a donkey in rural France. Passed from owner to owner, in turn treated kindly and cruelly, always inhabiting a world beyond his control, Balthazar exists as a beast of burden, suffering for the sins of man. But through his silence and powerlessness as well as Bresson's masterly touch - his trajectory becomes a stirring, transcendental allegory of purity and hope. A film unlike any other, Au Hasard Balthazar was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and has rightly taken its place in the pantheon of greatest French films ever made.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic epic 30 July 2005
"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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bresson's Profound And Moving Allegory 9 Sep 2013
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, heart-breaking film 11 July 2007
Balthazar is a small donkey, a dumb beast who is seldom used well by his owners, who is mostly abused and worked hard, who accepts what comes, who is born and who dies. Please note: elements of the plot are discussed below. Balthazar was born on a small French farm. We meet two children who love him and who grow up thinking they love each other. The girl's father loses the farm and everything he has because of pride. The young boy moves away, but returns as a man, Jacques (Walter Green), still loving her. And the girl, Marie (Anne Wianzemsky) grows up to be a sad-eyed young woman who is almost as accepting of her fate as Balthazar. She is attracted to Gerard, (Francois Lafarge), a bully and a young criminal. He and his gang steal, beat people and begin to smuggle things across the border. What do you see in that boy, Marie's mother asks her. "I love him. Do we know why we love someone? If he says, 'come,' I come. 'Do this,' and I do it."

Balthazar moves from owner to owner. He's often beaten and kicked. He plows the ground, hauls logs, delivers bread. In a brief moment of glory, he's trained to do number tricks in a provincial circus. His owner finds him and takes him back. Once, he finds his way to the farm where he was born and Marie embraces him. He works circling a well, drawing water up to be bottled by a miserly, cynical farm owner who doesn't feed him well. One night Marie flees her parents and comes to the man's farm. He takes her in, looks at her wet dress, finally offers her some money. Marie pauses but turns him down. She says that her father has had to give their last cent to the creditors. "That's what happens when you place honor above everything," the man tells her. "He's spent his life creating obligations for himself. What for?...Do I have any obligations?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Bresson at his most inspired
Robert Bresson's revered 1966 masterpiece Au hasard Balthazar is a film of quite extraordinary intellectual depth, piercing metaphysical perception and spiritual profundity. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Film Buff
1.0 out of 5 stars subtitling
I was a little disapointed because of the english subtitling. It was going too fast. (My native language is dutch)
Published 1 month ago by L C BEIJE
5.0 out of 5 stars The zenith of Bresson's career
I reviewed the VHS version of this some years ago, and having acquired the recent DVD I have no reason to revise my enthusiasm. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alan Pavelin
5.0 out of 5 stars "Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished [...]...
That is what Jean-Luc Godard said in Cahiers du Cinema. Anne Wiazemsky who also stars in La Chinoise by Jean-Luc Godard and ends up marrying him after he ends his relationship... Read more
Published 7 months ago by sunrisespacelab
4.0 out of 5 stars Love the donkey
I struggled to see the parallel with Jesus' life and I did not particularly like the story. However, love the donkey!!
Published 8 months ago by Carolyn
3.0 out of 5 stars Moving Film That I Could Not Enjoy
AU HASARD BALTHAZAR, (1966). This 95-minute black and white film from greatly respected director Robert Bresson is generally considered a classic of French cinema. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
5.0 out of 5 stars paradoxes and originality
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... Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2012 by schumann_bg
5.0 out of 5 stars Happier than Eeyore Despite it All
Relieved painfully by brief moments of grace which do not last long. Then there is an elliptical narrative which just moves on like life. Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2012 by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of endurance
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... Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2010 by AK
4.0 out of 5 stars not an easy watch!
'Au hazard Balthazar' is a beautifully filmed movie. The donkey Balthazar is very moving. Balthazar is a saint, people are treating him bad, but he stays calm. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2009 by R. Scheenjes
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