“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
Robert Bresson’s 1966 film Au hasard Balthazar has been lauded as one of the great masterpieces of cinema, coming 16th in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll. As it follows a donkey, born into pastoral bliss in rural France but then rapidly passed from owner to owner, often treated with terrible cruelty or neglect, Bresson tells his story in a supremely pared-down style. Yet this dispassionate minimalism, populated with seemingly blank performances, paradoxically evokes a complex, deeply resonant grasp of human nature, as well as glimpses of an almost tactile spirituality. Here’s a brief attempt to get inside Bresson’s reinvention of filmic language.
- Spoiler warning: This feature gives away the plot