Au Hasard, Balthazar review

To admirers like Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese, nonagenarian French director Robert Bresson is one of the greatest living film-makers. Famous for his austere visual style and preference for non-professional actors, Bresson's abiding preoccupation is the mysteriousness of the soul.

Made in 1966, Au Hasard, Balthazar is a rural religious parable in which the central character is a donkey named Balthazar. Shunted from owner to owner, the mule bears silent witness to man's evil and suffering. Running parallel to the experiences of this saintly ass is the fate of Marie (Wiazemsky), cruelly abused by the youth Gerard (Lafarge), who seduced her.

The antithesis of cute Disney films about animals, Au Hasard, Balthazar is a stark meditation on existence in which meaning is conveyed through images and sounds, culminating in a moment of sublime epiphany.

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