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France, 1966 (MIFF 1967, Programme 12)

Director: Robert Bresson

The donkey, always regarded as an important creature of nature, is the central figure of this film. One is adopted as a pet and christened Balthazar by childhood sweethearts Marie and Jacques, in a small French town. The life of this donkey parallels the ages of man: adored childhood, the harsh awakening to adulthood, success, and the mystery of death.

With the eyes of a judge, Balthazar passes through groups of people, each representing a vice, as avarice, ignorance, laziness, and his life intermingles with the story of Marie, whose tragic experiences reinforce the drama.

Bresson's first film in three years hovers outside of time, and carries echoes of a simple Christian parable. But the film is more than symbolic: it has layers of meaning that are expressed purely in visual ways. The value of this demanding work of art lies in the veiled, but disenchanted eye which Bresson turns on the price of progress in this mechanical age.

O.C.I.C. Grand Prix; Cinema Nuovo Prizem, St. Giorgio Prize, Venice Festival.

See also...


China, 2004
Festival guest Jia Zhang-ke arrived onto the international cinema scene with Pickpocket (1997), influenced most evidently by the work of Robert Bresson. Made well outside the state system, the film w… More »

Frozen Land

Finland, 2004
Aku Louhimies' tough and fearless [Frozen Land] was inspired by Leo Tolstoy's short story [Faux Billet], in which mischance is passed from one person to another. It thus finds a peer in Robert Bresso… More »


France, 1977
"By far the most punk movie ever made." - Richard Hell, punk legend ... Banned in France for its daring portrayal of alienated youth - and called a masterpiece by the likes of Francois Truffaut - The… More »


France, 1969
The husband of a young girl who has just killed herself relates in a formal, almost detached manner, the strange story of their meeting, marriage and life together. It reveals the situation of a rela… More »


France, 1971
After having made The Gentle Creature, in Four Nights of a Dreamer, Bresson once again turns to Dostoevsky &ndash: the script being based on "White Nights", and centering on what Bresson calls Dostoe… More »

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