297 Au hasard Balthazar

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#126 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:08 pm

ineedyoubad wrote: Since this film, i have watched pickpocket , l`argent , lancelot of the lake, mouchette, a man escaped, dairy of a country priest and les dames du bois de boulogne and was not disappointed by them.
A Man Escaped is the best Bresson film you'll ever see. If you ever find yourself wondering about Bresson's worth just watch that film and you'll understand why he's a master.

mteller
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#127 Post by mteller » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:06 am

[quote="Jean-Luc Garbo"][quote="ineedyoubad"] Since this film, i have watched pickpocket , l`argent , lancelot of the lake, mouchette, a man escaped, dairy of a country priest and les dames du bois de boulogne and was not disappointed by them.[/quote]

[i]A Man Escaped [/i]is the best Bresson film you'll ever see. If you ever find yourself wondering about Bresson's worth just watch that film and you'll understand why he's a master.[/quote]

I agree, it's my favorite Bresson. I also prefer his [b]Joan of Arc[/b] to Dreyer's take on it, and [b]Une Femme Douce[/b] is wonderful. [b]Le Diable Probablement[/b] is one of his less interesting films IMO.

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Michael
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#128 Post by Michael » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:06 pm

Saw Balthazar tonight, going to let it stew overnight. I was utterly transfixed all the way from the baby donkey sucking milk to his final rest on the pasture. Every other scene, doors open and close, giving out a lovely visual rhythym.

Whew, is there a film more emotionally shattering than this? I don't think so!

I'm confused by the relationship between Gerard and the drunk guy, why does Gerard keep calling him a murderer? The police interrogation scene with the drunk guy first, then Gerard and his gang lost me. Are they all involved with smuggling or something?

ADDED:

The morning after, Balthazar still stewing in my mind. I'm suspecting that Gerard tags a crime accusation on the drunk guy simply because the guy being a drunk, nearly homeless has no support of any kind in life.

I got physically sick when Gerard lit a fire on Balthazar's tail. I wanted to kill him.

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knives
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#129 Post by knives » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:27 pm

Finally got to seeing this and I'm slightly confused. I'm glad about that though because I had the same reaction to Pickpocket, so six months months down the line I might be able to understand it better.

As for the film itself I feel a distant love for it. It being very ambiguous and my own lack of knowledge for Christian symbolism are probably the reason for the distant part. I do like the idea of an animal being the only true innocent. Such an idea never occurred to me before, but it is something I like. Am I right, or even close in thinking that Marie is suppose to show how humans, even under their best attempts, can't keep that same innocence (or should I be saying purity? I have no idea for what the right word is) as Balthazar?

One last thought: The father in his pride seems to be the most looked down upon character. Even 'villains' like Gerard have their own little pet the donkey moments so to speak, but especially after the prologue the father is just shown to be petty and prideful. The only reason I mention this is that in most movies I've encountered he would be played as the unsung hero who fights the corrupt, but not here. Just fascinating.

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aox
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#130 Post by aox » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:31 pm

Tilda Swinton proclaims the donkey's performance the best in cinema.

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bottled spider
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#131 Post by bottled spider » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:26 am

I recently purchased the late Schubert piano sonatas, and listening to D.959 independantly from the film it strikes me all the more what a brilliant choice of score it was -- the imagination it took to connect that piece to tinkling bells and braying donkey.

I wish I had sought out the recording used for the film. I prefer that gruff interpretation to Perahia's more legato rendering.

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#132 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:14 am

bottled spider wrote:I wish I had sought out the recording used for the film. I prefer that gruff interpretation to Perahia's more legato rendering.
There's always Mitsuko Uchida.

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bottled spider
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#133 Post by bottled spider » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:13 pm

Yes, that's more like it. Grave rather than lyrical. I remember now my parents raving about the Uchida recording of the impromptus.

~

Changing topic, Bresson remarked in the interview on the criterion disc that the au hasard of the title comes from a family motto. Presumably that's an abbreviated form, in the way honi soit is short for honi soit qui mal y pense. Can anyone flesh that out? Googling hasn't got me anywhere.

Nothing
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#134 Post by Nothing » Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:46 am

Pollini is quite good too.

p.s. heh, yes, even Brando could've learnt something from the donkey(ies) in Balthazar :)

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dad1153
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#135 Post by dad1153 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:26 pm

Caught this last week while on vacation, my second Bresson after "Mouchette" (which I grew to love after an initial rough viewing). ''Mouchette' with a donkey' aptly sums up this predecessor (made the year before "Mouchette") except that, unlike a real human with the ability to think and rationalize (even a beat-down-and-defeated girl like Mouchette had the will to make/reject advances and had choices), the plight of an animal whose fate and taken-for-granted presence isn't noticed or cared for by anybody except Bresson's camera (and thus us as spectators) ends up having a little more emotional impact. As in "Mouchette" though (and yes, I realize I've made five references to that movie in the first three sentences of a "Balthazar" recap) the fact the star of the movie is often relegated to secondary-status to the events/characters around him both grounds the narrative in reality (we don't notice what we miss until its missing) and the cruel hand of fate (François Lafarge's Gérard beating and picking the donkey almost at will even though its never his... God, I wanted this punk to get his so bad!) asserting itself over Balthazar's life. Although Anne Wiazemsky is technically the star of the movie (her Marie character is way too passive and self-centered though, but I guess that's the point Bresson would want to get across) Philippe Asselin delivers the most interesting performance as a rural man too proud and stubborn to do what's easy over what he perceives as morally correct. Can't say I loved "Au Hasard Balthazar" but, like "Mouchette" (reference #6), it's the type of movie that stays with you long after its watched.

For a laugh (or to cure insomnia, take your pick) check out the vintage hour-long French featurette from 1966 about the film that (a) shows all the key scenes (including the ending!) and (b) profiles talking heads that clearly look like they wish were anywhere else but where they were at that moment (i.e. Godard). They sure don't make them like this anymore.

dda1996a
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#136 Post by dda1996a » Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:35 am

I really loved Pickpocket but found this a bore... Anyone care to tell me what I missed? In Pickpocket I felt the emotions and the sadness yet here I got lost in all the different characters and if I come out as brainless watcher I am not but I really did not understand the critical acclaim this received

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peerpee
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#137 Post by peerpee » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:27 pm

You have to feel it yourself. Maybe you've no empathy for animals? Watch it in the morning after a cup of coffee, and again each morning, until it clicks. Look deeply into Balthazar's eyes.

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movielocke
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#138 Post by movielocke » Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:30 pm

dda1996a wrote:I really loved Pickpocket but found this a bore... Anyone care to tell me what I missed? In Pickpocket I felt the emotions and the sadness yet here I got lost in all the different characters and if I come out as brainless watcher I am not but I really did not understand the critical acclaim this received
its just a feature length experiment with the kuleshov effect, you only get out of the film what you project onto the animal which is controlled by the editing.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#139 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:57 am

I'm reluctant to compare it to the Kuleshov effect only because the experiment revolved around a very basic reaction on the part of the viewer. It's been a little while since I've seen it, but I seem to recall Balthazar really getting under my skin when he became a metaphorical stand-in for what you'd observe in the same place, and not a completely literal viewpoint of an animal.

Bressonaire
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#140 Post by Bressonaire » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:16 pm

There's a book review about Bresson on Bresson and Notes on the Cinematograph in today's New York Times. The online version is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/books ... graph.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Unfortunately, in the fifth paragraph the writer claims Au Hasard Balthazar is a 1970 release, and provides a link to an essay at Criterion's site, where he could easily have found the correct year of release: 1966. The Times is getting sloppier and sloppier.

oh yeah
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#141 Post by oh yeah » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:05 pm

Bressonaire wrote:Unfortunately, in the fifth paragraph the writer claims Au Hasard Balthazar is a 1970 release, and provides a link to an essay at Criterion's site, where he could easily have found the correct year of release: 1966. The Times is getting sloppier and sloppier.
"The failing @nytimes can't even get the release year right for Bresson's transcendent masterpiece. Sad! The donkey deserves better."

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whaleallright
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#142 Post by whaleallright » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:55 am

IIRC it was distributed in 1970 in the US, by a tiny company founded by two Yale students (one of whom was Martin Rubin, who subsequently became a programmer for the Film Center in Chicago). It barely was released, and its re-release in the mid-2000s was the first time most folks in the US had an opportunity to see it.

BTW one of the folks who saw it in 1970 was Terrence Malick, who incorporated an homage to Bresson's film in his unused draft script for Dirty Harry, co-credited to John Milius.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#143 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:48 pm

Returned to this five years after being massively underwhelmed by it, to only be re-underwhelmed. I got a little more out of it this time (the acting is really engaging) but there's some kind of big gap between me and the movie, and nothing I've read on it have helped enlighten me. Maybe I'll try again in 2023 and experience the gush of emotion everyone else apparently does.

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aox
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#144 Post by aox » Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:32 pm

Do you find other Bresson enthralling?

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#145 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:22 pm

I've only seen Diary of a Country Priest, which I was just as jubilant about.

Zot!
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#146 Post by Zot! » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:04 am

Magic Hate Ball wrote:the acting is really engaging
. If your favorite thing about Bresson is the "acting", you may want to quit while you are ahead.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#147 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:06 am

Zot! wrote:
Magic Hate Ball wrote:the acting is really engaging
. If your favorite thing about Bresson is the "acting", you may want to quit while you are ahead.
Why shouldn't I be engaged by it? It's fascinating.


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Lost Highway
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#149 Post by Lost Highway » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:39 am

Zot! wrote:
Magic Hate Ball wrote:the acting is really engaging
. If your favorite thing about Bresson is the "acting", you may want to quit while you are ahead.
Considering what lengths Bresson went to, to get naturalistic performances out of his performers and the strong views he held on acting in films, I don't see anything wrong with finding that aspect compelling.

Zot!
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Re: 297 Au hasard Balthazar

#150 Post by Zot! » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:00 pm

My Bresson theory is but a distant memory, but I thought he specifically went to no lengths at all to influence his "models". Hence my snide comment.

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