Up 10,718 this week

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
"Au hasard Balthazar" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  25 May 1966 (France)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 8,898 users   Metascore: 100/100
Reviews: 63 user | 83 critic | 8 from

The story of a mistreated donkey and the people around him. A study on saintliness and a sister piece to Bresson's Mouchette.



0Check in

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb at Comic-Con 2014

Follow our coverage of Comic-Con 2014, direct from San Diego July 23-27 in our Comic-Con section.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 09 Jan 2012
a list of 26 titles
created 09 Feb 2012
a list of 45 titles
created 5 months ago
a list of 22 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Au Hasard Balthazar.
4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

L'argent (1983)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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 »

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: Christian Patey, Sylvie Van den Elsen, Michel Briguet
Close-Up (1990)
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Pretending to be Mohsen Makhmalbaf making his next movie, Hossain Sabzian enters the home of a well-to-do family in Tehran, promising it a prominent part in his next movie. The actual ... See full summary »

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Stars: Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Hossain Sabzian, Abolfazl Ahankhah
Los Olvidados (1950)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A group of juvenile delinquents live a violent and crime-filled life in the festering slums of Mexico City, and the morals of young Pedro are gradually corrupted and destroyed by the others...

Director: Luis Buñuel
Stars: Alfonso Mejía, Roberto Cobo, Estela Inda
A Man Escaped (1956)
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

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 »

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A kind but pampered beautiful young virgin and her family's pregnant and jealous servant set out to deliver candles to church, but only one returns from events that transpire in the woods along the way.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Two crooks with a fondness for old Hollywood B-movies convince a languages student to help them commit a robbery.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Stars: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Danièle Girard
The 400 Blows (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Intensely touching story of a misunderstood young adolescent who left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Pickpocket (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.

Director: Robert Bresson
Stars: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri
Crime | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Having recently been uprooted to Milan, Rocco and his four brothers each look for a new way in life when a prostitute comes between Rocco and his brother Simone.

Director: Luchino Visconti
Stars: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot
Mean Streets (1973)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A small-time hood struggles to succeed on the "mean streets" of Little Italy.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The plot couldn't be simpler or its attack on capital punishment (and the act of killing in general) more direct - a senseless, violent, almost botched murder is followed by a cold, ... See full summary »

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Stars: Miroslaw Baka, Krzysztof Globisz, Jan Tesarz
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Bob, a old gangster and gambler is almost broke, so he decides in spite of the warnings of a friend, a high official from the police, to rob a gambling casino in Dauville. Everything is ... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Stars: Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy


Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Green ...
François Lafarge ...
Jean-Claude Guilbert ...
Philippe Asselin ...
Marie's father
Nathalie Joyaut ...
Marie's mother
Marie-Claire Fremont ...
Baker's wife
Jean-Joël Barbier ...
The Priest
Guy Renault
Jean Rémignard ...
Guy Brejac
Mylène Weyergans
Jacques Sorbets ...
Police Officer
François Sullerot ...


The sad life and death of Balthazar, a donkey, from an idyllic childhood surrounded by loving children, through adulthood as a downtrodden beast of burden. His life is paralleled with that of the girl who named him, and as she is humiliated by her sadistic lover, so he is beaten by his owner. But he finds a kind of peace when he is employed by an old miller who thinks he is a reincarnated saint... Written by Michael Brooke <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

25 May 1966 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Au Hasard Balthazar  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,325 (USA) (17 October 2003)


$39,388 (USA) (12 December 2003)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Gerard: Lend him to us.
Marie's mother: He's worked enough. He's old. He's all I have.
Gerard: Just for a day.
Marie's mother: Besides, he's a saint.
See more »


Piano Sonata No.20
Written by Franz Schubert
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The Life of a Donkey-Saint
16 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The star of Au hasard Balthazar is a donkey, a trained animal that has been led, goaded, into what passes, in an animal sense, for a performance. Of course there is nothing new about this - animals have been stars since Rescued By Rover - yet there is something unique about the performance of the donkey in Au hasard Balthazar, something that strikes one sort of funny if one gets to thinking about it. It has to do with the approach of Robert Bresson, a director whose way of working with actors was, shall we say, unusual. An auteurist in the purest sense, Bresson believed, zealously it seems, that the director should be the sole creative force behind a film, the one person responsible for the movie's tone, its meaning. The problem with most movies, if you look at things in a Bressonian way, is that stubborn habit of actors to sometimes change the meaning, the texture of a scene by how they play it - that irksome tendency of actors to take the creative reins themselves, and slip things into scenes that aren't meant to be there. Bresson's solution to this problem? Rehearse your actors to death, make them do take-after-take until the words no longer mean anything to them, until they have lost the ability to be spontaneous anymore, to do anything but what their director tells them to - in short, break them like animals. The people in Bresson's films perform their actions with the same hollow, mechanical absence-of-will one perceives in a circus elephant rolling a ball, and this is exactly as Bresson wants it, for it allows him to carry out his cinematic plans without fear of their being subverted by an actor who has some contradictory notion in their head of what a scene is supposed to be about, who their character is. The human actors in Au hasard Balthazar, stripped of their emotional tools, their tricks, occupy exactly the same plane as the donkey Balthazar, who is, as they are, a trained animal, an element in a composition.

The first scenes are an idyll: the foal Balthazar, new-stripped from his mother's teat, becomes the favorite pet of a group of kids spending the summer together on a farm. This is a time for frolicking, for amorously carving names into benches - but alas the childish harmony is doomed soon to end. Bresson conveys the fleetingness of youth, cutting quickly through a series of tableaux depicting carelessness and joy slightly darkened by the presence of a sickly young girl; then without warning we're presented with the realities of grown-up existence, embodied most cruelly by the image of poor Balthazar, now grown, harnessed to a salt-wagon (salt having ironically been his favorite treat during his care-free younger days). It's here that Bresson gives us an indication as to the donkey's more-than-animal nature: Balthazar, having been mistreated, rebels against his owner, tips the wagon and, about to be set upon by a mob of men with pitch-forks, flees. Some instinct - or is it conscious will? - leads Balthazar back to the farm, which has been taken over by a former schoolteacher whose daughter, Marie, once one of Balthazar's playmates, still resides, her existence a lonely one. This would seem the beginning of a new happiness for Balthazar, but the donkey's fate is alas still clouded with gloom. Marie becomes the object of the juvenile delinquent Gerard's amorous attentions; for obscure reasons the jaded miscreant is resentful of Balthazar, and avails himself of every opportunity to torture the poor beast.

Tenderness and cruelty live side-by-side in Au hasard Balthazar, and seem equally the product of an almost mindless instinct. Nowhere is this embodied more purely than in the character of Gerard (Francois Lafarge), the angry sadist who becomes Balthazar's chief tormentor. Gerard is capable of being gentle, as demonstrated by his wooing of the poor farm-girl Marie (the Pre-Raphaelite beauty Anne Wiazemsky), but he's equally capable of unfeeling viciousness, as when he ties a piece of newspaper to Balthazar's tail and sets it alight. Is Gerard a good person or a bad one? Does he hate Balthazar, does he love Marie? These questions seem of little concern to Bresson, who views human affairs in terms of irresistible internal forces. Bresson, in a mysterious, vaguely irreverent way, blurs the line between human and animal, brings human behavior into the animal world while elevating Balthazar to the quasi-human. There's an awareness to Balthazar that's more than you would expect from your average quadruped, and it's through this hint of sentience that one begins seeing the saintly qualities in Balthazar, the patient endurance of hardship, the radiance of spirit.

It's an amazingly delicate piece of work by Bresson, an audacious idea carried out with the utmost discretion and skill. Perhaps only Bresson among all filmmakers could've made this idea work, because only he had mastered the art of rendering existence nearly abstract while at the same time achieving powerful emotional effects. If the film were merely symbolist it would be irrelevant - Balthazar can of course be seen as a symbol for a lot of things, but it doesn't seem right to reduce him to some emblem of suffering, some Christ-like trope. Balthazar is above all a character, a protagonist in a drama, but of course in Bresson there is never any sense of conventional drama, of easy emotion. As a storyteller Bresson was efficient but patient - his scenes never go on longer than they need to, yet you wouldn't call the pacing urgent. There's something about Bresson's cutting that keeps the story flowing briskly while never engendering a sense of hurry. He moves from one character to another, one situation to another, with an unfussy ease that shames most conventional directors with their dependence on transitions, devices and segues. The film's very pace helps convey Balthazar's saintly nature, his perseverance. It's a work at once touching, bold, enigmatic and stirringly human.

69 of 90 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
this movie sucked ratsnbats
is this the best movie involving an animal with tragedy? meeyakey22
Can someone translate the title for me? rsimanski
Deserves to be in the top 250 QuickSickNick
I didn't cry psy_spectre
The donkey is the only one who can act in this movie! Felix_le_Chat
Discuss Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: