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Directed by Robert Bresson

France 1966 95 mins.

By 1966 Robert Bresson could be comfortably grouped into the category of “masters of French cinema,” having already made such heralded films about men in solitary situations as Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, and Pickpocket. With Au Hasard Balthazar, however, Bresson turns his focus to the animal world through a plain spoken and ultimately tender portrait of the life a donkey, Balthazar, who lives a quiet existence on a rural farm alongside his caretaker, Marie (a radiant Anne Wiazemsky). When the pair are separated following a series of unfortunate circumstances, the film becomes a couplet of existential longing, Bresson focusing on the transcendent moments that emerge forcefully in spite of yet often due to human cruelty. “Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished, because this film is really the world in an hour and a half.”—Jean-Luc Godard. (French with English subtitles)

Read Roger Ebert’s review of the film (3/19/2004)