Quick Thoughts: Au Hasard Balthazar (Balthazar, At Random, 1966)
The troubled lives of people from a small town are seen from the perspective of a continually abused and exploited donkey.
Profound and emotionally charged to an almost torturous degree (in the best way possible), Au Hasard Balthazar is a masterpiece above masterpieces. There is so much that could be said about this film, but, in my view, there are only a handful of things that really need to be articulated – the rest of the film speaks for itself better than most would be able to speak for it. In such, all that has to be noted is the incredibly poetic and intricate manner in which Bresson brings to his screen life’s simplicity through a donkey. He juxtaposes this archetype with the complexity of humanity – often its worsts shades – to reveal its absurdity and utter unawareness to a degree that is entirely flawing. His commentary on humanity is then one that comes from ourselves; the audience being made to look at themselves and humanity with sudden clarity – whether it be subconsciously felt or consciously perceived – all thanks to the looming presence of a personified void. Balthazar is then much like all suffering, silent archetypes – one of the most symbolic and recognisable being Jesus – as he acts as a dark mirror and an ambiguous, shadowed reflection that demands humanity to question itself. However, it is because he lacks a voice and because he can never articulate what he ‘means’ to reflect that he exudes such deep profundity.
Au Hasard Balthazar is then not only one of the most tremendous examples of a pure cinema, but is, certainly in my view, one of the greatest stories humanity has ever told; one that has, of course, been told time and time again over centuries, but never with such articulation.
Bullhead – Coincidence & Reason
Au Hasard Balthazar – Cinema As A Religion
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