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Film / Au Hasard Balthazar

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"Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished (...) because this film is really the world in an hour and a half."
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Au Hasard Balthazar is a 1966 film directed by Robert Bresson. The film follows a donkey named Balthazar from birth to death. Balthazar starts off enjoying an idyllic childhood belonging to a farmer and his daughter, but, over the years, he passes from owner to owner, experiencing cruelty and abuse.

The film is probably Bresson's most famous and was voted the 16th greatest film of all time in the 2012 Sight and Sound Poll. Many critics regard it as the greatest film to feature an animal as the main character.


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Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Arnold, one of Balthazar's owners, is this.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Marie is attracted to Gerard who mistreats both her and Balthazar.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Subverted. As children Marie and Jacques vow to marry each other, but, as adults, Marie is more attracted to Gerard.
  • Crapsack World: The people in the village range from weak to cruel.
  • Dull Surprise: Bresson forbade his actors from showing any emotion as part of his Signature Style.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Gerard and his friends are introduced pouring oil on a road so that cars driving on it will slide off and crash.
  • Jerkass: Gerard and his friends are all extremely cruel.
  • Kick the Dog: Too many examples to list, often with Balthazar as the victim.
  • Shameful Strip: Gerard and his friends do this to Marie. They also beat her and lock her in a building.
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  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: There are plenty of humans, but Balthazar is the true protagonist.
  • The Sociopath: Gerard shows no redeeming traits at all.
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