French Resistance activist Andre Devigny is imprisoned by the Nazis, and devotes his waking hours to planning an elaborate escape. Then, on the same day, he is condemned to death, and given... See full summary »
Charles Le Clainche,
A reconstruction of the trial of Joan of Arc (based entirely on the transcripts of the real-life trial), concerning Joan's imprisonment, interrogation and final execution at the hands of ... See full summary »
A forged 500-franc note is cynically passed from person to person and shop to shop, until it falls into the hands of a genuine innocent who doesn't see it for what it is - which will have ... See full summary »
Sylvie Van den Elsen,
A million miles away from 'Camelot' or 'Excalibur', this film ruthlessly strips the Arthurian legend down to its barest essentials. Arthur's knights, far from being heroic, are conniving ... See full summary »
Laura Duke Condominas,
Charles drifts through politics, religion and psychoanalysis, rejecting them all. Once he realises the depth of his disgust with the moral and physical decline of the society he lives in, ... See full summary »
Henri de Maublanc
Rich young Anne-Marie thinks she has found her vocation when she joins a Dominican convent as a novice. The convent specialises in rehabilitating female prisoners, and Anne-Marie becomes ... See full summary »
A young woman kills herself, leaving no explanation to her grief-stricken pawnbroker husband. We learn in flashback about how they met, married, and how she failed to adapt her lifestyle to... See full summary »
The 'dreamer' is Jacques, a young painter, who by chance runs into Marthe as she's contemplating suicide on the Pont-Neuf in Paris. They talk, and agree to see each other again the next ... See full summary »
Guillaume des Forêts,
This is the story of a donkey and the somewhat difficult life it leads. During a summer holiday, the baby donkey is a child's pet but when they return home, it begins it's life of misery. It works as a farm animal, pulling a delivery cart and working as any manner as various owners require of it. Meanwhile, the young girl who first acquired Balthazar as a pet grows up, only to be badly treated herself by an indifferent and selfish boyfriend. Written by
Balthazar was an untrained donkey during most of the filming, which made Bressons's work a real challenge. The only scene for which the donkey was trained was the circus math trick. See more »
The "for Sale" sign that is on the fence when Balthazar runs through the gate is different to the one seen in close-up. Also, when he runs through the gate, the sign is in shadow but in close-up it is in full sun. See more »
Au Hasard Balthazar will generally elicit reviews from two types of people: those who consider it an incomprehensible piece of art-house crap, and those who marvel at the genius of Bresson.
I, however, fall somewhere in the middle. I'm aware that Bresson's movie is filled with symbolism and layered with subtext, but his approach turns me off. Bresson's mantra is this: no acting under any circumstances. Step 1 is to hire non-actors. Step 2 is to direct them not to emote. Step 3 is to keep reshooting the scene until the actors give up emoting. It was common for him to do 30 takes of even the simplest scenes. He doesn't do this to be cruel, but because he sincerely believes the truth of the material cannot be revealed until the people saying the lines stop thinking about the fact that they are saying lines. A kind of brute force method of ensuring that no one on his set is attempting to craft a performance. He definitely gets what he's after, but whether or not it's worth seeing is questionable.
As a movie viewer raised in the spoon-fed post-Spielberg Hollywood era, I find it tough to get through Bresson. I disliked Balthazar, but not because I think it's crap. Bresson made his film inaccessible so it would be hard to understand, but because it's so pretentious I didn't WANT to understand it.
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